Learning outcomes of the course unit
The overall objective is to provide students with the introductory concepts, terms, and tools necessary to identify, describe, and analyse microbes, microbial interactions, and microbial processes as they might occur in environment.
Course contents summary
The course will cover eukaryotic and prokaryotic microbes and viruses, but will emphasize bacteria. Will provide a conceptual background in microbiology sufficient to enable students to take more advanced courses in related fields.
It has been designed to make the students familiar with the science of microbiology and its significance in everyday life as microorganisms drive the biogeochemical cycles that sustain all living things, can cause some of the most devastating diseases, and can be used to ameliorate environmental degradation, in food industry/ biotechnology.
General Microbiology module
Microbiological techniques: light and electron microscopy, simple and differential staining procedures. Structure of the microbial cells at different evolution levels (Eukarya, Bacteria, Archaea). Comparative analysis and description of structures and functions of procaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Microbial nutrition: common nutritional requirments, growth factors, nutrient uptake, culture media, sterilization, pure cultures. Microbial growth: influence of aerobiosis,anaerobiosis, temperature, pH etc. on microbial growth. Microbial population growth , methods for growth measurement, continuous coltures (chemostat and turbidostat). Microbial metabolism and metabolic diversity: energy production, aerobic and anaerobic respiration, fermentation, oxigenic and anoxigenic photosynthesis, chemolithoautotrophy. Biosynthesis. Metabolism regulation at transcriptional level, translational level, feed-back inhibition. Microbial genetics: bacterial genome, mutation and mutants, genetic recombination in prokaryotes (transformation, conjugation, transduction). Plasmids and transposable elements. Microbial evolution and systematics. Prokaryotic diversity (Bacteria and Archaea), Fungi, Algae, Protista and Viruses
Environmental Microbiology Module
Metabolic diversity of microorganisms. Sampling methods, quantification and classification of environmental important microorganisms.Classical and molecular methods for studying microbial populations (DGGE, TGGE, ARISA, T-RFLP ARDRA etc). Microbial community dynamics (colonization, successions). Microorganisms in their natural habitats: air, water, soil. Extreme environments microbiology, deep subsurface microbiology.Interactions among microbial populations (neutralism, commensalism, synergism, mutualism, competition, predation), interactions between microorganisms and plants (fillosphere, rhizosphere, mycorrhizae, nitrogen fixation). Microbial interaction with animals (mutualistic association of invertebrates with bacteria, symbiotic light production, rumen microorganisms). Microbial control of pests. Microbial biopolymers.Bioremediation: microbial interactions with organic and inorganic pollutants.
Dehò e Galli "Biologia dei microrganismi" Casa Editrice Ambrosiana (2012)
Madigan et al. “Brock, Biologia dei Microrganismi” volumi 1-2-3 Pearson (2012)
Willey et al “Prescott, Microbiologia” volumi 1-2-3 McGraw-Hill (2009)
Barbieri et al MICROBIOLOGIA AMBIENTALE ED ELEMENTI DI ECOLOGIA MICROBICA (2008) Casa Editrice Ambrosiana (Milano)
Lectures. Laboratory classes. Intermediate tests without credits
Assessment methods and criteria
At the end of this course students will be able to
-understand basic principles of microbiology (cell structure and function, microbial genomics, microbial and metabolic diversity, microbial growth and growth control)
-describe, identify, and list the key distinguishing features of the major subgroups of both archaea and bacteria
-name, explain, and describe the core central metabolic and respiratory pathways in archaea and bacteria
-list major biogeochemical cycles, identifying those reactions that are microbe-catalyzed recognize the role of microorganisms in environmentally relevant processes including bioremediation of pollutants, biogeochemical cycling and wastewater treatment
-understand principles of microbial diversity and microbial ecological theory and how they apply to environmental microbiology
-know methods for studying microbial diversity and function and the different methods for the characterization of microbial communities
The exam is organised in a written test composed of 26 short questions (with a short answer) and 6 open questions for a total value of 33. During the teaching period there is the possibility of splitting the test. The total value of the written test corresponds to 30/30 and lode.
The oral examination is necessary for all the students who have got less than 33 points with a minimum of 15. The oral examination adds maximum 3 point to the test total score.