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.
Students need the basic notions of chemistry, organic chemistry and biochemistry that have gained at high school. For students with particular difficulties, the teacher will prepare a summary chapter that will be available on the Elly platform
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.
The following list suggests some of the books that deal with the topics developed during the course (see program) all equally useful:
Dehò e Galli "Biologia dei microrganismi" Casa Editrice Ambrosiana (2018)
Brock. Biologia dei microrganismi. Microbiologia generale, ambientale e industriale. Ediz. mylab. Con espansione online (2016)
Willey et al “Prescott, Microbiologia” volumi 1-2-3 McGraw-Hill (2009)
As far as the Environmental Microbiology : Barbieri et al MICROBIOLOGIA AMBIENTALE ED ELEMENTI DI ECOLOGIA MICROBICA (2008) Casa Editrice Ambrosiana (Milano)
Theteacher will make available the slides shown and discussed during the lessons to facilitate the student in the task of synthesizing the study material.
The study on the textbook is however recommended either for attending and non attending students. The Library of the SCVSA Department is provided with copies available for loan.The teacher will publish on Elly platform the slides
The course includes frontal lectures in class, explaining the general aspects of microbiology (from the structure of microbial cells to their metabolism, to the relationships between microorganisms and the environment). With this part of the course students will familiarize with the specific language of microbiology. In April-May, some practical laboratories will also be done in which students will be able to apply the acquired theoretical knowledge (eg how to evaluate the microbial load of food or environmental sample). Every topic discussed during the lessons and the lab materials will be available on the Elly platform.
Attending students will be invited to participate actively during the course because as tasks and short research will be assigned and the teacher will evaluate them.
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
As described below, it will be verified that the learning objectives have been achieved and that the student is able to answer the open questions of the written test demonstrating that he is able to organize the acquired knowledge.
METHOD OF EXAMINATION Written test composed of 26 short questions (with a short answer) and 6 open questions for a total score value of 33.Short questions are rated up to 0.5 points (tot. 13 points), open questions 3-4 points each for a total of 20 points. The maximum score student can acquire with the written exam is, therefore, 33 (which corresponds to 30 cum laude). The basic exam score is that obtained with written test . Anyone who has obtained at least 15 points can access the oral exam that consists of only one question and allows to add to the score obtained with written test, up to a maximum of 3 points.
The exam takes place at the end of the course. Only for attending students there is a possibility (if they want) to split the exam into two written exams with oral exam after the second test: the first takes place in the middle course, the second at the end. Otherwise the exam is as described.