Course code BIO330

BIO330 Microbial Ecology and Physiology

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2016 - 2017 .

Course responsible: Åsa Helena Frostegård
Teachers: Lars Reier Bakken
ECTS credits: 10
Faculty: Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science
Teaching language: EN, NO
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
Teaching exam periods:
This course starts in Spring parallel. This course has teaching/evaluation in Spring parallel, .
Course frequency: Annually
First time: Study year 2004-2005
Course contents:

Taking a series of environmental problems of current interest as the point of departure, central topics in aquatic and terrestrial microbial ecology are dealt with:

  • Microbial biochemistry; key fuctions for the nitrogen, carbon and sulphur cycles in the biosphere.
  • Ecology and physiology of functional groups of microbes.
  • Interaction in microbial communities; dependencies between functional groups.
  • Symbioses between microbes and eukaryotic organisms.
  • Regulatory biology; how microbes react to stimuli, and how this affects survival and growth.
  • Kinetics of growth, uptake of nutrients; and starvation. Microbes in many environments are starving most of the time, and depend on efficient uptake systems to survive long periods of low/no nutrient input.
  • Molecular methods in microbial ecology.

Applied topics: Reduction of microbially produced greenhouse gases (nitrous oxide; methane); Bioreactors (fermentation; methane production); Bioremediation (use of microbes to remove pollutants from soil and water), Biofertilization (eg use of nitrogen fixing bacteria); Modern technologies for wastewater treatment.

The course is based on lectures on selected topics, literature seminars and group discussions related to the curriculum. The lectures cover the most central topics in the textbook. The course also contains exercises in reading scientific literature, which prepare the students for writing their Matser´s or PhD thesis. Primary scientific articles are used for the literature seminars. The students are to comment on these and discuss them in plenary. Each student is also required to deliver a written report on an article discussed during the seminars.

Learning outcome:

The main aim is to give students:

  • A basic insight into microbial processes and interactions that play central roles in the functioning of ecosystems.
  • The theoretical foundation necessary for acquiring knowledge in the subject field by reading primary scientific literature.
  • An understanding of methods, with main emphasis on the role of molecular biology in microbial ecology.
  • Intellectual skills that may be used for solving environmental problems.
Learning activities:
Lectures on the central parts of the textbook as well as certain additional literature.Colloquia where study questions related to the curriculum are discussed.Seminars that take primary scientific articles as their point of departure. Students participate actively in the discussions in these seminars.Individual assignment: To write a summary of one of the articles discussed during the seminars.
Teaching support:

The teachers take part in the seminars and are available during the study groups. The teachers can also be contacted via e-mail.

Fronter is used for discussions and questions outside of the study group and seminar/lecture hours.

Will be announced in the beginning of the course.
Basic Microbiology equivalent to BIO130, Microbial Physiology, Genetics, and Systematics equivalent to BIO230.
Recommended prerequisites:
Biochemistry equivalent to KJB200, Molecular Biology equivalent to BIO210, Microbial diversity equivalent to BIO233, Experimental Molecular Microbiology equivalent to BIO332. Students lacking the recommended prerequisites for this course will be advised selected readings for independent study during the first phase of the course. This will not constitute a problem for students with an otherwise solid background from studies in microbiology, biochemistry and related fields.
Mandatory activity:

8 seminars (2 hours each). Must attend at least 7 of the 8 seminars.

Written report from one seminar.


Contribution to seminars is evaluated during the semester. The seminar part must be approved before the student is allowed to take the final, written exam.

Final written exam that has to be graded E or better.

Grade weight for seminars: 3/10. Grade weight for written exam: 7/10. The written exam is 3.5 hours.

Nominal workload:

Lectures: 40 hours.

Seminars, including preparations: 100 hours.

Study groups and individual study: 160 hours.

Entrance requirements:
Special requirements in Science
Type of course:

Lectures: 2 hours, 2 times per week (40 hours in total).

Study groups where questions related to the course readings will be discussed: at least 2 hours every other week, or more frequently.

Seminars: 2 hours per week.

One visit to relevant company/organisation.

The course is suitable for Ph.D. students and master students in related fields, who wish to practice efficient reading and analysis of scientific primary literature. Students who lack parts of the previous knowledge recommended for this course will be advised selected readings for independent study during the first phase of the course. This is mainly relevant for Ph.D. students working in related fields of research.

Internal examiners for the seminars.

An external examiner approves the examination questions and corrects all exams (or, if >25 students, the external examiner grades 25 selected exam papers).

Allowed examination aids: No calculator, no other aids
Examination details: Continuous exam: A - E / Ikke bestått