LBIA10211U  Environmental Microbiology and Cleantech

Volume 2013/2014
Content
With its methods-based approach and its focus on basic interactions between microorganisms and their environment, the course provides an important foundation for subsequent student specialization in both environmental science, agricultural science, plant science and biotechnology.

Important groups of microorganisms in nature and their respective lifestyles and interactions are presented in lectures with a focus on natural and man-managed environments of high importance for food production, waste treatment, environmental protection and energy generation. The lectures also include genetic and enzymatic regulation of microbial activities and presentation of state-of-the-art existing and emerging methods for studying microorganisms in complex environmental samples. Finally, cleantech applications will be presented as cases for the current and potential future exploitation of environmental microorganisms to serve pivotal societal needs of significant economic importance.

In colloquia, students will practice their critical reading and assessment of different types of scientific literature such as text book chapters, peer-reviewed scientific publications, popular science literature and scientific reports. Specific emphasis will be on data interpretation based on text and figure examples and on the training of strict scientific thinking, discussion, and communication.

In laboratory exercises students will get hands-on experience with modern techniques used for measuring microbial abundance, activity and growth in complex environmental samples. Specific exercises may change from year to year as they will reflect current research activities among the participating teachers.

Group-based project works (typically 3-5 students per group) will form a parallel teaching track during the entire duration of the course. During teacher supervision, students will train the formulation of an environmental or clean tech-related problem with a microbiological content/solution. Group projects will be based on the topics covered during the parallel teaching activities (lectures, colloquia and exercises) and on individual literature searches using appropriate on-line databases. Group projects will be reported as a written theoretical project report and as a poster/slide presentation.
Learning Outcome
Knowledge:
- to describe microbial lifestyles and basic interactions between microorganisms and their environment (focus on soil and water) at the level of the individual cell over cell populations to complex microbial communities consisting of thousands of different interacting species
- to describe key principles for the abundance and composition of microbial communities in natural and man-managed environments (focus on soil and water)
- to describe key principles for microbial activity and transformation of matter in natural and man-managed environments (focus on soil and water)
- to refer to quantitative and qualitative methods for detection of microorganisms and their activities in natural and man-manged environments (focus on modern molecular tools including emerging technologies)
- to refer to established and emerging cleantech applications and ecosystem services that can be attributed to environmental microorganisms and their activities.

Skills
- to analyze and identify the effects of environmental factors on microbial activities and growth in natural and man-managed environments.
- to analyze and identify the mechanisms behind microbe-microbe interactions (e.g. cross-feeding, symbiosis, competition, and predation).
- to disseminate knowledge about methods used for detection of microorganisms and their roles in terrestrial and aquatic environments.
- to disseminate knowledge about existing and emerging microbial cleantech applications and microbial ecosystem services of significant importance for human and environmental health

Competences
- to analyze and discuss microbial lifestyles and interactions between microorganisms and their environment (focus on soil and water) and to link this basic understanding of microbial ecophysiology and ecology to ecosystem functioning and biogeochemical cycles of elements at both local and global scales.
- to analyze and discuss established and emerging cleantech applications and ecosystem services that can be attributed to environmental microorganisms and their activities.
- to select and reason the application of current and emerging methods for specific studies of microorganisms and their activities in complex natural and man-managed environments.
- to work independently and in groups to gain new knowledge about environmental microbiology and microbial cleantech applications.
Teaching materials:

Text book: Maier, R.M., Pepper, I.L. and Gerba, C.P.: Environmental Microbiology. Second Edition. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-370519-8

Lecture notes (uploaded to Absalon)

Original scientific literature for colloquia (uploaded to Absalon)

Laboratory exercise manual (uploaded to Absalon)
The course 'Mikrobiologi' (7.5 ECTS) or similar general microbiology course is recommended prior to taking this course. Hence, the course teaching will be based on the assumption that students have a basic microbiology knowledge prior to the course.
Lectures, colloquia, laboratory exercises, and theoretical, thematic project work (group work).
Credit
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, 2 hours under invigilation
Written assignment
Description of Examination:
Evaluation of theoretical project work and 2-hours written examination.

Weight: Theoretical project work (20%; each student must specify his/her specific contribution to the group work). Written examination (80%).
Exam registration requirements
Submitted theoretical, thematic project work (group work)
Aid
Written aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Re-exam
If 10 or fewer register for the reexamination the examination form will be oral.
Criteria for exam assesment
See 'learning outcome'
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 24
  • Colloquia
  • 24
  • Practical exercises
  • 16
  • Project work
  • 62
  • Preparation
  • 78
  • Exam
  • 2
  • Total
  • 206