Marie Clair Horner-Devine
Evolution of an idea or concept central to the natural sciences. Intended for non-science majors. Content varies from year to year. For University Honors Program students only. Offered: W.
Microbes are the oldest, most abundant and diverse group of organisms on Earth. In this course students will gain an understanding of the fundamentals of ecology and evolution by exploring the role of microbes in disease, ecosystem functioning and extreme environments.
We will begin with an introduction to the incredible diversity of microbes and methods used to study these communities of tiny organisms. The rest of the quarter will be comprised of three units:
1) Microbes and disease: We will explore the current understanding of the role that microbial species and communities play in diseases of humans, plants and animals.
2) Microbes and ecosystems: Next, we will explore the role that microbes play in the functioning of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. We will then examine the impact that anthropogenic changes, such as invasive species and climate change, have on microbial community structure and function.
3) Early evolution and microbes at the extremes: We will investigate the ability of microorganisms to live in extreme environments such as deep sea vents, geothermal hotsprings, Antarctic ice and possibly on other planets as well as what insights we can gain about early evolution.
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