NBIB16001U Molecular Microbiology

Volume 2020/2021

BSc Programme in Biochemistry
BSc Programme in Biology
BSc Programme in Molecular Biomedicine


Molecular Microbiology is a discipline that combines genetics, physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and cytology with microbiology. These fields have undergone dramatic, in some cases almost explosive, developments during the last decade. In particular, the genetics of microorganisms has become very efficient with rapid methods of gene mutation and replacement and rapid whole genome sequencing; biochemistry has been revolutionized by methods for rapid protein purification and crystallization and high-throughput protein-protein interaction methods whereas cytology has been revolutionized by the introduction of fluorescent protein tags and a number of high-end methods to visualize the fluorescently tagged proteins within living cells. Last but not least, the genomics era has spawned a genuine revolution in microbiology, transforming it into an exact discipline. There are now more than 8,000 fully sequenced and annotated prokaryotic genomes available. Making use of this vast biological information it is now possible to classify prokaryotes numerically and thereby chose model systems of general importance.

The present course in Molecular Microbiology is held by researchers belonging to the Sections of Functional Genomics and of Biomolecular Science. It is our aim with the course to give a broad overview of both the fundamental knowledges and the rapidly developing and exciting topics in Molecular Microbiology. An emphasis is placed on the molecular mechanisms underlying bacterial stress physiology, which is essential for bacterial environment survival and thereby tolerance and resistance to antibiotics. The topics will be discussed in lectures given by teachers and also in theoretical excises where in depth discussion via recent research articles will be presented by the students with guidance from the teachers. Finally, in the laboratory exercise part, relevant critical and cutting edge techniques will be used to investigate research problems that we currently study. This comprehensive course will thus provide a strong platform for those students who wish to pursue or already are pursuing a research career in Molecular Microbiology and related fields.

The theoretical part (lectures and colloquia) will contain an in-depth discussion of the following topics:

  • Techniques used to study molecular microbiology.
  • Basic bacterial physiology analysed with cutting edge technologies.
  • How bacteria under stress uses intracellular second messengers to reprogram their physiology
  • How bacteria under stress reprogram their transcription patterns using alternative RNA polymerase sigma factors
  • Molecular mechanisms of bacterial translation and its dynamic regulations in response to stresses
  • Molecular mechanisms underlying bacterial survival during stationary phase
  • The connection between growth rate, ribosome synthesis and translation.

The practical part (lab exercises):

The practical part of the course will consist of a two-week lab course. During that time the students will be introduced to different techniques within the field of molecular microbiology. The lab exercises will include the following techniques:

  • Basic methods for propagation of bacteria in the laboratory
  • Purification of RNA and DNA (plasmid, genomic)
  • Using reporter genes to analyze gene expression
  • Construction and screening of gene libraries to identify regulatory genes
  • DNA sequencing and sequence analysis
  • Regulation of gene expression by the CRISPR/Cas9 system
  • In vivo analysis of protein-protein interactions using a two-hybrid system
  • Skills of literature mining, reading, hypothesizing, project planning and writing


Learning Outcome


  • Ability to describing and understanding genetics of model organisms
  • Understanding how phylogeny and genomics allow for the design of projects aiming at answering important questions of general biological significance
  • Describing and understanding the transcription machinery in bacteria
  • Understanding and describing the translation machinery in bacteria.
  • Describing and understanding how bacteria reprogram the physiology upon stresses


  • Evaluate the stringent response in relation to bacterial physiology and pathogenesis
  • Know how to use phylogeny, database and genomics to design projects aiming at answering important questions of general microbiological significance
  • Know how to study protein-protein, protein-DNA and protein -small ligand interactions.


  • Be able to read, understand and present cutting edge literature in the field of molecular microbiology
  • Be able to use standard phylogenetic analyses and web based databases to understand the biological importance of specific genes, proteins and metabolites.

See Absalon.

Curriculum in 1. and 2. year courses are considered known.
Lectures, colloquia and lab exercises.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 20
  • Class Instruction
  • 20
  • Preparation
  • 278
  • Practical exercises
  • 90
  • Exam
  • 4
  • Total
  • 412
Type of assessment
Written examination, 4 hours under invigilation
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

The same as the ordinary exam.

If ten or fewer students have signed up for re-exam, the type of assessment will be changed to a 30 minutes oral exam (1 hour preparation, all aids allowed).

Criteria for exam assesment

In order to obtain the grade 12 the student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competences described under "Learning Outcome".