I’m smack dab in the middle of a two week long test in my Microbiology class. We get three vials containing 4 bacteria total. There’s a list of 54 bacteria they could be, and we have to be able to differentiate them without the instructor’s help. We also have to keep them alive, and stop them from causing an outbreak. So obviously, technique is paramount.
How does one go about testing bacteria? Well, there is A LOT of tests. One reason I really don’t enjoy bacteriology in particular is because they all look the same. You have to memorize mostly chemical reactions in order to tell them apart. Are they aerobic or anaerobic, strictly or facultative (how much oxygen can they grow in)? What kind of pH do they like? Do they like sugars, carbs, salts, or intenstinal bile? What color do they turn under certain conditions? And many, many more. Most of these are very delicate processes and require good technique and lots of patience.
But see, I’m a general biology major. I like looking at crustaceans and arachnids for fun. Structures are what fascinate me. There are no cool structures you can see on a bacteria!!! The best thing that grabs my attention is textbook illustrations of cell membranes. That’s it. Anyways, I’m trudging through the class, trying to raise my B+ to an A. It also doesn’t help how much vocabulary we have to memorize without context.
At this point, I’m very sure my vial B is a Streptococcus or Enterococcus of some form. My vial C, and my vials A-1 and A-2 are all Staphylococcus or Micrococcus species. This narrows down the list from 54 to about 12 possibilities. So, I should be on track for the due date.
Pray for me. 8-[