The Wonderful World of Microbiology

Project LeaderRosianna R. Gray, PhD. (

Project Aim:

The aim of the project is to introduce high school students to the world of microbes and techniques used to enhance, inhibit and control growth of those microbes that can potentially be pathogenic to humans.

Short Annotation:

Understanding the world of microbes and techniques to grow, inhibit growth and control their growth has been an essential part of many discoveries within this thing we call planet earth.  The introduction of aseptic techniques reduced the number of death and incident of sickness caused by microorganisms by substantial numbers.  The initial portion of this project included students being introduced to classical microbiology techniques such as aseptic techniques for inoculation onto sterile microbial media, normal flora vs. transient flora, enriched and differential media preparation, the four-quadrant streaking for isolation method as well as simple, negative and gram-staining. Classical microbial techniques are essential to understanding the importance of antibiotics and their uses to inhibit microbial growth and in some instances even destroy the organism itself.  This concept of inhibition of microbial growth goes as far back in history as medieval times before the idea of antibiotics was know.  Several plants, herbs and spices were used to inhibit the growth of microbes in food, on and inside of the body.  During this experiment, the goal for students will be to test various spices commonly used today in food to see if they exhibited any inhibition of growth of three particular microbial organisms: Escherichia coli K-12, Streptomyces lincolnensis and Staphylococcus epidermis.


Harrison F, Roberts AEL, Gabrilska R, Rumbaugh KP, Lee C, Diggle SP. 2015. A 1,000-year-old antimicrobial remedy with antistaphylococcal activity. mBio 6(4):e0112915. doi:10.1128/mBio.01129-

Liu, Q., Meng, X., Li, Y., Zhao, C.-N., Tang, G.-Y., & Li, H.-B. (2017). Antibacterial and Antifungal Activities of Spices. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(6), 1283.

Gottardi, D., Bukvicki, D., Prasad, S., & Tyagi, A. K. (2016). Beneficial Effects of Spices in Food Preservation and Safety. Frontiers in Microbiology, 7, 1394.