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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

John E. Mittler
CONJ 549
Seattle Campus

Microbial Population Biology

Principles of ecology and evolution as they apply to microorganisms. Prerequisite: advanced undergraduates with permission of instructor. Offered: Sp, even years.

Class description

Specific topics to be covered will include: i. Levels of selection: individual, group, and kin selection. ii. Game theory and microbes: Prisoner’s dilemma & evolution of “tit-for-tat” retribution. iii. Microbial competition: Why the fastest grower doesn’t always win. iv. Microbial predator-prey interactions: The “paradox of enrichment” v. Causes of diversity: Selectionist versus neutralist theories. vi. Viral dynamics: Inferring disease processes using population biology. vii. Evolution of resistance to antibiotics and antiretroviral drugs. viii. Evolution of mutation rates: Can mutational ratchets drive microbes to extinction? ix. Evolution of virulence: Why haven’t microbes evolved to be nastier? x. Studies of experimental evolution: What lessons do studies of evolution in microorganisms hold for evolution in general?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures and paper discussions with a greater emphasis on paper discussions towards the end of the class.

Recommended preparation

The course will include a couple of segments that rely on use of mathematical equations. A brief review of previous coursework in algebra and calculus could be helpful could be helpful for these segments. Students will not have to do any calculus (i.e., integrate or differentiate equations); however, they will need to be able to provide general interpretations for equations presented in class.

Class assignments and grading

Once weekly computer exercises designed to illustrate concepts discussed in class. No programming experience needed.

Take home (open book) final exam Class participation Computer exercises


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by John E. Mittler
Date: 03/31/2008