VU Lab M1: Introduction to the Virtual Unknown Program
Virtual Unknown Software:
Virtual Unknown Software:
For the best results on these labs, do the exercises in order and do not skip any
exercises. The exercises build and if you skip any, there is a good chance you will be
lost and overwhelmed with the later activities. Be sure to use the instructor-developed
directions, not the directions supplied by the program company.
9. Finally, let’s look a bit more around the lab environment for some helpful
a. Note the T? M? and B? buttons at the top of the window.
b. You’ll be asked to click on these buttons to answer some of the
Questions: Answer the following questions in a Word document and upload the
document to the correct dropbox, along with your .pdf lab report saved from the
VU program. Both the .pdf report AND the question answers must both be
uploaded for the lab to be graded. PDF reports must show that they were
completed during this term (noted in the bottom left corner of the report) and by
the person submitting the report for a grade (noted in the top left corner of the
1. Case Study Number (click View --> Case Study to see the number): ___________
2. Open your lab report (click View --> Lab Report) and use it to answer the following
a. Gram stain results: _____________
b. How many bacteria types were eliminated by the Gram stain? _______________
c. How many bacteria types are remaining as possible identities of the unknown
after the Gram stain? __________
d. How many bacteria types were eliminated by the Glucose test? _____________
e. How many bacteria types are remaining as possible identities of the unknown
after the Glucose test? _____________
f. List one error shown in red on your lab report. Explain what you did to trigger
the error and what you can do to correct the error in the future.
3. Click on the yellow T? button at the top of the window – it will cause your browser to
open or a new tab to open in your browser. The “T” on the button stands for “Tests”
and it lists the procedures for all tests used in the program.
a. What is the first test on the top of the list? __________________________
b. What is the last test on the bottom of the list? _______________________
4. Click on the blue M? button at the top of the window and then click on the “Phenol
Red Glucose Broth with Durham Tube” link in the list (this is the test we did).
a. If you had seen a bubble in the Durham tube when you did the test, what would
Upload your question answers and your .pdf report to the dropbox for this lab.
Lab M1 Activities:
1. If you did not do the Tutorial (Step #2 above), stop and do it now before you go any further.
2. These labs contain many steps. It may be helpful for you to print out the directions and check off
each step as you complete it.
3. Each time you start a new lab experiment, you will need to select and name a new sample of
bacteria to work with.
a. Click on the “New” button (the one with the orange biohazard
symbol, not the one with the red cross).
b. Name (label) your sample – you can name it whatever you like (no
spaces), but make sure it’s something you’ll remember.
* This unknown will always be available in the “Unknown” drop
down box if you need to stop your lab and return to it later.
c. Note that the subgroup box says “None” – leave this as it is for now.
d. Click the “Auto-inoculation on” box for now (but we will not always
check this box so do not do it for every lab).
4. Read through the case study you are given. You can review the case
study at any time in the View menu.
5. Determine the Gram stain status of your sample using the following
guidelines (the program will tell you if you are wrong):
a. Gram negative rods – pink ovals
b. Gram positive rods – purple ovals
c. Gram negative cocci – pink circles
d. Gram positive cocci – purple circles
e. Spiral & curved bacteria – none of the above (spiral/curved shape)
6. Next, we’ll choose a media tube to inoculate with our bacteria.
a. In the Media drop down list, select “Phenol Red Glucose Broth with
Durham Tube” and name the sample (you can name it whatever
you like, but the program will not let you include spaces).
b. Look in the upper right corner of the lab window and note the two
traffic lights that appeared with the media.
i. The “Inoculation” light is red because the sample has not yet
ii. The “Contamination” light is green because the sample has not
yet been uncapped and therefore has not had a chance to
c. Although we have not yet inoculated our red tube with bacteria
(we’ll learn how to do that in the next lab), we’ll record some results.
i. Hover your cursor over the Bunsen burner and right click to turn
it on. Leaving the burner on, go to the top of the screen and
click the “New Day” button. Note that you received an error
message. The program has recorded your error message.
ii. Right click on the red tube and select “Record results” using
the following guidelines:
1. Tube is red: negative
2. Tube is yellow: positive
3. Little tube poking out the top has a bubble in it: gas is
positive (negative if no bubble)
iii. In the “View” menu at the top of the page, click on “Lab
Report” – note that your results have been recorded on the
report. Everything you do in the lab is recorded on the report.
7. As you learn about the bacteria and tests used in this program, you’ll gain the knowledge
and skills necessary to determine the identity of unknown bacteria in a sample. This is what lab
technicians do in clinical labs so that doctors have the information necessary to prescribe the
proper treatment for infection. This program is also used in veterinary programs so some
case studies will involve animals. Don’t let that throw you off – the tests use the same process
for humans and animals.
8. Next, we’ll pretend we have done enough tests to identify the unknown (in reality, it typically takes
5-8 rounds of tests to do this properly).
a. In the “Unknown” menu click on “Identify”.
b. Guess on the unknown identity (in reality, you would have narrowed this list down
to only one remaining organism – we’ll learn how to do that in later labs).
NOTE: If you get an "All microbes eliminated" error, watch this video for how to fix it:
c. Unless you are a good guesser, you’ll get the identity wrong – but that’s okay at
d. Click “yes” to see your lab report and examine the following things:
i. Any errors you made are now listed in red (you couldn’t see them earlier
because they don’t appear until you identify the unknown)
ii. The “Assigned Unknown” at the top tells you which bacteria the program
assigned for you to identify.
iii. The “Identified Unknown” at the top tells you which bacteria you identified as
iv. Each person will have a different, individualized, report. Note the
differences between your report, and the one shown here.
v. Before leaving your report. Click File --> Save As to name it and save it to
your computer. BE SURE TO SAVE THIS REPORT – you must upload it to
the lab dropbox for credit on this lab.