What's new in Microbiology?

Like any active scientific field, Microbiology is a discipline that sees plenty of change. New discoveries seem to emerge constantly, and at a pace that exceeds developments in most other areas of biology. Keeping up with it all can be a daunting challenge, as is finding a healthy balance between teaching the core material while making the course current and relevant. You'll find the course replete with discussion of many "classic" techniques and fundamental, timeless understanding, too, but here are a few of the areas that I wish to shed more light on this semester. So, in a nutshell, here's what's new(s) in Bio 203:

 In 2013, Microbiology moved into a brand-new classroom and lab space, with significant improvements and upgrades in facilities and equipment.

A comment about textbooks. I have made the transition to a new textbook, Tortora, Funke & Klein's Microbiology, a few years ago. This text is, I feel, quite current, with a good discussion of methodology in Microbiology, as well as a fresher look at microbial taxonomy. Nonetheless, I am very much aware of the burden that textbook prices place on student budgets, and I have made a significant effort to get better pricing for your books, and have explored customized versions of the book with the publisher, such as loose-leaf editions. Furthermore, I am aware that many students purchase textbooks (because they are "required" and end up reading very little of them. Therefore I am revising my textbook policy:

I recommend that you obtain a current (published in the past 5 years) Microbiology textbook. I recommend Tortora, Funke & Klein's Microbiology: An introduction because it is a well-organized book. You may also use an older edition of the book; key concepts and content is pretty much the same, and although the newer editions focus more on recent discoveries, the 12th edition is perfectly ok for this course. You may also use any recent Microbiology textbook (< 5 years old is best); there are many available second-hand for low cost. I strongly recommend that you read the appropriate chapters of the book before class. An unread book will do you no good. Nevertheless, all my exam questions are taken from lecture content, and a textbook is not necessary. Lastly, I have a number of older textbooks available to borrow if you wish to have a book but cannot afford to purchase one.