Nov 19th 2015

The Extremes of Life: Microbes and Their Diversity (edX)

Created by: Delivered by:
Taught by:

Microbes are everywhere! Find out how diverse microbial life is, and what their genome sequences tell us.

Life on our planet is diverse. While we can easily recognize this in our everyday surroundings, an even more diverse world of life can be seen when we look under a microscope. This is the world of microorganisms. Microorganisms are everywhere, and although some are notorious for their roles in human disease, many play important roles in sustaining our global environment. We will explore these and in particular, those that thrive in the most extreme environments on our planet, the extremophiles.

In this course, we will discover how diverse life is on our planet and consider the basic principles that govern evolution. We will also learn how to classify organisms. One method is based on the different mechanisms that organisms utilize to conserve energy and obtain carbon. Another method is based on comparing sequences of common molecules present in different organisms. In the latter half of the course we will introduce the various extremophiles that have been not identified until now, and their basic characteristics. Finally, focusing on the thermophiles, we will study how proteins from thermophiles can maintain their structure and function at high temperatures.

What you'll learn:

- Basic principles of evolution

- Recognition of the diversity of life

- Methods to classify organisms

- Basic knowledge of extremophiles

- Principles that govern protein stability