BIO330 Microbial Ecology and Physiology

Credits (ECTS):10

Course responsible:Åsa Helena Frostegård

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk, norsk

Limits of class size:50

Course frequency:Annually

Nominal workload:

  • Lectures: 40 hours.
  • Seminars, including preparations: 100 hours.
  • Study groups and individual study: 110 hours.

Teaching and exam period:This course starts in Spring parallel.This course has teaching/evaluation in Spring parallel, .

About this course

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.

Several of the applied topics in the course are closely connected to several of the UN sustainable development goals:

  • 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 Master´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

Knowledge: A basic insight into microbial processes and interactions that play central roles in the functioning of ecosystems. Knowledge of commonly used methods in modern microbial ecology, with emphasis on molecular methods.

Skills: Ability to interpret and critically read primary scientific literature. Training in scientific writing to prepare the students for writing their Master´s or PhD thesis. Perform kinetics calculations and make simple mathematical models to study microbial activities.

General competences: The theoretical foundation necessary for acquiring knowledge in the subject field by reading primary scientific literature. Intellectual skills that may be used for solving environmental problems and contribute to a sustainable development.

    • Lectures on the central parts of the textbook as well as certain additional literature (review articles that cover themes which the text book does not cover satisfactorily).
    • Colloquia where study questions related to the curriculum are discussed.
    • Seminars that take primary scientific articles as their point of departure. We start with an oral presentation of the article(s) by one of the students. Students participate actively in the discussions in these seminars.
    • Individual assignment: To write a summary of one of the articles discussed during the seminars.
  • The teachers take part in the seminars and are available during the study groups. The teachers can also be contacted via e-mail. Canvas is used for discussions and questions outside of the study group and seminar/lecture hours.
    • Basic Microbiology equivalent to BIO130.
    • Microbial Physiology, Genetics, and Systematics equivalent to BIO230.
  • Contribution to seminars is evaluated during the semester. The seminar part (including a written summary of one of the articles discussed during the seminars) must be approved before the student is allowed to take the final, written exam.

    Final exam graded E or better to pass.

    Grade weight for seminars: 3/10. Grade weight for written exam: 7/10. Duration of exam: Oral exam ca 30 minutes; if written exam it will be 3.5 hours.

  • Internal examiners for the seminars.

    An external examiner is present during oral examinations of all students. If written exam is given the external examiner approves the examination questions and corrects all exams (or, if >25 students, the external examiner grades a minimum of 25 selected exam papers).

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

    Written report from one seminar.

  • 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.
  • Some of the weeks we have 2 X 2 hours of lectures, other weeks we have 2 hours of lectures and 2 hours of colloquia where study groups discuss questions related to the course readings. In total there will be at least 32 hours of lectures and 20 hours of colloquia.

    Seminars: 2 hours per week.

    One visit to relevant company/organisation.

  • Special requirements in Science