Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course provides a general introduction to the diverse roles of microorganisms in bioremediation and solution of different environmental pollution problems. Students will understand the important aspects of microbial metabolism for the purification and reclamation of contaminated sites, such as bioremediation technologies and how they apply. They will be able to understand a technical report and a reclamation project at least as far as biological aspects are concerned. They will be able to read, critically, a scientific article that addresses the role of micro-organisms in remediation processes and assess the applicability of the technologies proposed for resolving pollution issues.
General microbiology and microbial metabolism
Course contents summary
Bioremediation is an increasingly popular technology for remediation of contaminated sites. The purpose of this course is to define bioremediation and to describe the role of microrganisms in environment remediation. In the first part of the course students will learn the different metabolic capabilities of microorganisms and how these can be applied to remediation of contaminated environments. The use of database specialized in catabolic pathways will be explained. The main bioremediation technologies will then be illustrated. In the last part, practical situations, in which the student will see the application of aquired competences, will be discussed
Organic and inorganic environmental pollutants, natural attenuation, monitored natural attenuation, bioremediation. The bacterial degradation of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons and certain classes of xenobiotics, in particular alogenated in aerobiosis and anaerobiosis. Evolution and diffusion of catabolic pathways. Bioaugmentation, Biostimulation. Metals and Radionuclides. Methods of analysis (classical and molecular) of microbial communities involved in bioremediation. Biodegradation techniques in situ and ex situ. Mycorimediation (fungi remediation). Nitrogen and phosphorus removal from waste water: anaerobic ammonia oxidation (ANAMMOX), applications, eco-physiology and biodiversity of ammonium oxidants bacteria. EBPR (Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal) and poly-P microorganisms
Barbieri, Bestetti, Galli e Zannoni, "Microbiologia ambientale ed elementi di ecologia microbica"(2008) Casa Editrice Ambrosiana
Martin Alexander “Biodegradation and Bioremediation” (1999) 2nd Ed. Academic Press
Some chapters of these texts have been a source of information for developing the slides shown in lesson. This material is updated every year in the light of new knowledge, while remaining basic information, essentially unchanged. Updated slides will be uploaded on the Elly platform as the lessons take place. For non-attending students the study of slides must be integrated with the study on the suggested texts because the information the slides contain is schematic and will be developed during the lessons even with the discussion of case studies.
The articles discussed will be made available on the Elly platform.
Students who do not attend are warned to check the available teaching material and directions provided by the teacher through the Elly platform.
Frontal lessons and collective discussions of specific items will be alternated. Students will be asked to prepare two seminars on two articles selected, among the most recent ones, in the bibliographic databases In the first seminar the articles should deal with isolation of microbial strains capable of biodegrading or biotransforming various types of pollutants, and molecular mechanisms of this degradation. In the final seminar articles dealing with different types of bioremediation will be discussed focusing on micro/mesocosm or in field trials of in situ and ex situ remediation, with the characterization of the microbial communities involved in the process. In the second seminar the attending student will be evaluated
Assessment methods and criteria
For the students attending the lessons, the first seminar will be like an exercise and will not be evaluated while the final seminar will be evaluated for: 1) student's ability to select the article on the basis of the assignments of the teacher; 2) his ability to extract substantial information from the scientific article and 3) the ability to expose (with use of slides) the chosen work and discuss the results. At the end of the seminar, the teacher will ask the student a question about one of the topics in the program of the course.
For non-attending students, the exam will be oral and will verify if the student knows the topics developed during lessons, is able to expose and discuss them and knows how to connect the different aspects (biochemical, molecular, technological, regulatory) concerning polluted site reclamation with biological methods.