Genomics: A Microbial Perspective

Module code: BS3009

Module co-ordinators: Dr Julie Morrissey and Dr Chris Bayliss

  • How do you determine which virulence factors, genes and gene networks are important for the pathogenesis of microbes?
  • How do we identify new antibiotic and drug targets?
  • Why do microbes change so fast?

Genomics is a major area of research and is having a significant impact on our understanding of disease processes. For example, the development of cheap high-throughput sequencing has generated thousands of microbial genome sequences, revolutionising detection of virulence factors and other determinants of pathogenesis. in this module we will explore the major techniques used in genomics and current views on the genetic diversity and adaptability of microbial pathogenesis.

You will learn how genomics increases our understanding of how microbial pathogens evolve to adapt to host environments in the long term (chromosomal organisation and gene content) and in the short term (antigenic variation and phase variation). We will also look at how they adapt to fluctuations in their external environments (regulatory pathways and gene networks). We will explore how the latest genomics techniques are used to study microbes and disease including how Next Generation Sequencing can characterise the diversity of microbial genomes and communities ('the microbiome'). We will also investigate how differential gene expression can be determined through microarray and RNASeq techniques, and the development of yeast genomics as a model to identify mechanisms of human neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

As part of this module, starting with a DNA sequence file, you will carry out a basic bioinformatics analysis of a microbial gene and its deduced polypeptide followed by a research of the literature background of the gene and its cellular function. Students write a short report on their functional analysis. 

This module is essential if you want to pursue a career in bacterial pathogenesis and is recommended for anyone interested in the wider genomics field.


  • 36 one-hour lectures
  • 7 one-hour tutorials


  • Exam, 3 hours (70%)
  • 2 written assignments (10% + 10%)
  • Gene function investigation report (10%)