Academic Year 2020/2021 - 1° Year
Teaching Staff: Adriana GAROZZO
Credit Value: 6
Scientific field: MED/07 - Microbiology and clinical microbiology
Taught classes: 35 hours
Exercise: 12 hours
Term / Semester:

Learning Objectives

The aim of the course is to provide students with the main knowledge on:

  1. Microorganisms and parasites: infection of the host
  2. Biological essential features of microorganisms and parasites responsible for human infections
  3. The microorganisms and the environment
  4. Control of infections
  5. Microorganisms and parasites responsible for human infections
  6. The diagnostic principles for bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections

In particular:


Identify the different types of relationship that microorganisms and human parasites have with the host, differentiating the phenomenon "infection" from that of "disease".

Analyse the critical factors that determine the "contagion" and the spread of microorganisms and parasites in relation to their unique biological characteristics.


Classify microorganisms and parasites in the various stages of aggregation of living matter (metazoans, prokaryotes, eukaryotes, viruses), correlating the degree of organization with the pathogenic action.

As part of the structural organization of the microorganisms and parasites, identify the structures / functions necessary to carry out metabolic processes and replication, and to determine the infection or disease in the host.

Correlate variation and mutation phenomena in microorganisms and parasites with the pathogenic action and resistance to antimicrobial substances.


Assess the degree of resistance (survival) in the environment of microorganisms and parasites as a critical factor for the infection of the host.



Define the principle of "selective toxicity" finalizing the therapeutic use of antimicrobials.

Describe and classify the inhibitory mechanisms, the site of action, the antibiotic spectrum of action, as well as for antiviral, antifungal and antiprotozoal substances.

Disclose assumptions biological of antibiotic resistance (genotypic and phenotypic) and the resistance to other antimicrobial agents (anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-protozoal).

Assess the experimental procedures to interfere on the different functions of microorganisms and parasites by use of inhibiting substances.

Antimicrobial vaccines:

Define immunization practices relating it to the prevention of human infections (vaccine prophylaxis or vaccine therapy).

Define the practice of treatment with immune sera (serum prophylaxis and serum therapy) correlating with the prevention of human infection.

Indicate the composition of a vaccine and of an antimicrobial immune serum.

Evaluate the results and prospects of experimental prophylaxis of fungal infections and parasites.

List the major antimicrobial vaccines currently in use by defining the essential characteristics.

Analyzing the theoretical - applicative perspectives arising from the use of new vaccines obtained with molecular biology techniques.

Identify the most essential biological characteristics and pathogenicity of microorganisms and parasites for man.

Critically analyze and describe, for each "species": the way of entry into the body, the differentiated spread in the infected, the presence of antigens in the various districts of the organism (blood, secretions, excretions) for the purpose of "contagion" and laboratory diagnosis.


Identify the laboratory methods that allow the identification of the agent responsible for infection and those necessary for stuudying the biological characteristics of microorganisms and human parasites.

Course Structure

Traditional lectures, with the support of slides and educational videos of some theoretical-practical teaching topics (the films will be available on the Studium page).

Should teaching be carried out in mixed mode or remotely, it may be necessary to introduce changes with respect to previous statements, in line with the programme planned and outlined in the syllabus.

Detailed Course Content

  1. Microorganisms and parasites: infection of the host
    1. Microorganism-host relationships.
    2. Essential characteristics and differences of bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and other parasites known to infect humans.
    3. The human microbiota
    4. The pathogenic mechanisms of microorganisms.
    5. The various possibilities of infection and spread of infection.
  2. The prokaryotic cell
    1. The organization of the bacterial cell
      1. Structure and function of the cell wall
      2. Cellular components
      3. Accessory components (capsule, flagella, pili)
  3. The bacterial genetics and cell growth
    1. The bacterial division
    2. Transfer of genetic information in prokaryotes:
      1. Recombination in bacteria: conjugation, transformation and transduction
      2. Plasmids and transposable elements.
  4. Bacterial Metabolism
    1. Sources of energy for microorganisms
    2. Bacterial fermentation
    3. Bacterial respiration
    4. Anaerobic respiration
  5. Bacterial growth and reproduction
    1. Growth and division
    2. Bacterial growth curve
  6. Pathogenicity and virulence
    1. Host-parasite interaction
    2. Latent infections and carriers
    3. Virulence
    4. Pathogenic process: adhesion and colonization; invasion, growth and multiplication
    5. Adaptive changes of virulence
    6. Virulence factors: endotoxin; superantigens; diphtheria toxin; tetanus toxin; botulinum toxin; enterotoxins; pathogenicity islands
  7. Infection control
    1. Sterilization, disinfection and antisepsis
    2. The antimicrobial chemotherapy:
      1. Classification and main characteristic of principal groups of antibiotics
      2. Mechanism of action
      3. The antibiotic resistance
      4. Susceptibility testing
    3. Vaccines
  8. The diagnostic principles of bacterial diseases
    1. Microscopic examination
    2. Direct diagnosis
      1. Culture methods
      2. Other methods
    3. Indirect diagnosis
      1. Serological methods
  9. Systematic Bacteriology (taxonomy, main characteristics, pathogenicity, infectious diseases, possibility of prevention, diagnosis and antibiotic chemotherapy)
    1. Key Features of: Gram positive cocci, Gram negative cocci, Enterobacteriaceae, Gram negative non- Enterobacteriaceae, Gram positive bacilli, Mycobacterium, Vibrio, Helicobacter, spore-forming anaerobic microorganisms, spore-forming aerobic microorganisms,Spirochetes, Chlamydia.
  10. Viruses and sub-viral structures
    1. The organization of the viral particle
    2. Virus replication
    3. Subviral pathogens: prions, viroids, and virusoides
  11. The pathogenesis of the viral infection
    1. Mode of transmission
    2. Types of viral infection: acute and persistent infection (latent, slow, chronic, oncogenic)
    3. The host response to viral infection
    4. The interferon
  12. The control of viral infections
    1. The antiviral chemotherapy
      1. Classification
      2. Mechanism of action and resistance
      3. Combined therapies
    2. Vaccines
  13. The diagnostic principles of viral diseases
    1. Culture method
    2. Culture indipendent and molecular methods
    3. Serological methods
  14. Key features of main viruses:
    1. double-stranded DNA viruses , single-stranded DNA viruses, single-stranded (+) RNA viruses , single-stranded (-) RNA viruses , double-stranded RNA viruses, Retroviridae.
  15. The Fungi
    1. Characteristics of fungi and their metabolism
    2. The fungal cell
  16. Host-parasite relationships.
    1. Mechanisms of pathogenicity
      1. Micetism
      2. Mycotoxicosis
      3. Mycosis
    2. Pathogenesis of mycosis and dimorphism
  17. The fungi responsible for mycosis
    1. Primary and opportunistic pathogens.
    2. Fungi responsible for superficial, subcutaneous and systemic mycosis
  18. The antifungal drugs
  19. The diagnostic principles of fungal diseases
  20. Parasites
    1. Morphological characteristics and pathogenic mechanism of action.
    2. The main parasites of medical importance
      1. Protozoa (Flagellates, Amoebae, Coccidia, Microsporidia)
      2. Metazoans (Platyhelminthes and Nematodes)
    3. The antiprotozoal drugs and vaccines
  21. Pharmaceutical production and Pharmacopeia
    1. Necessarily sterile pharmaceutical preparations
    2. Pharmaceutical preparations not necessarily sterile
    3. Sterilization applications in the pharmaceutical field: parenteral products and parenteral products
    4. Evaluation of contamination of pharmaceutical products
    5. Assessment of microbial contamination of non-sterile products
    6. Assay for the determination of bacterial endotoxins (LAL Test)
    7. Use of antimicrobial preservatives in pharmaceutical preparations
    8. Good preparation of medicines (N.B.P.): environment features, staff, raw materials.
  22. Food Microbiology
    1. Microorganisms in non-fermented and fermented foods.
    2. HACCP: General principles and description of HACCP system.

Textbook Information

More recent edition:

TEXTBOOK 1: Microbiologia Farmaceutica - Carlone N., Pompei R. - Casa Editrice EdiSES

TEXTBOOK 2: Principi di microbiologia medica - Antonelli G., Clementi M., Pozzi G., Rossolini G.M. - Casa Editrice Ambrosiana

All students can use didactic material downloadable from the Studium page at the following link: