NBIK16003U Marine Microbiology and Virology

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Biochemistry
MSc Programme in Biology
MSc Programme in Biology with a minor subject


Marine microbes (virus, bacteria, archaea and protists) are key drivers of the biosphere in terms of facilitating primary production and biogeochemical recycling of nutrients. They play a central role in both local and global regulation of marine ecosystems at several trophic levels. Thus, understanding the response of marine microbes to anthropogenic activity and environmental change is of paramount importance for understanding and forecasting global change scenarios. Furthermore, marine microbes represent a huge and largely un-explored biodiversity resource for new metabolic pathways, bioactive compounds and bioproduction. The course will cover all these aspects of the ecology and applications of marine microbes by integrating the newest knowledge about microbial diversity, metabolism and interactions at levels ranging from the single cell level, over microbial consortia and communities to entire ecosystems and global scales.

Central themes of the course encompass:
1) Microbial biodiversity
2) Microbial growth, Metabolic Diversity and Ecophysiology
3) Microbes in Ocean Processes and Element Cycling
4) Microbial Interactions (microbe-microbe, microbe-plant, and microbe-animal) in the marine environment.
5) Methods in Marine Microbiology and Virology

The course is strongly linked to the research activities of the teachers that involves research in a wide range of marine habitats ranging from Artic to tropical ecosystems, and from shallow to deep-sea habitats, and methodology ranging from classical microbiological quantification, cultivation and description, over advanced ecophysiological methods (e.g. microsensors, flowcytometry, and bioimaging) to modern molecular techniques for studying microbial biodiversity, community composition and activity in situ.

Learning Outcome


The Marine Microbiology and Virology (MMV) course gives the participants a broad overview of the role of virus, prokaryotes (bacteria, archaea) and microbial eukaryotes (protists) in the marine environment, including their importance in element cycling, symbioses, disease and aquaculture.

Key topics include: Microbial diversity and physiology; Ecological interactions amongst microbes (virus-microbe, microbe-microbe), between microbes and plant/animal hosts (symbiosis and pathogenesis), and between microbes and their environment (microenvironmental controls; biogeochemical processes and element cycles); Microbes as a resource, and the role of microbes in relation to ecosystem management, disease and aquaculture.


  • Demonstrate insight into quantitative assessments of microbial biodiversity, microbial biomass, growth and metabolic activity of microbes, and relevant environmental parameters in marine waters, sediments and biofilms.
  • Demonstrate an insight to central methods in marine microbiology and virology.
  • Devise experimental strategies for analyzing microbial populations, their activity and interactions in marine ecosystems.
  • Critically read, analyze, discuss and present topics from the original scientific literature (articles and reviews) in marine microbiology and virology.


Successful course participants are able to:

  • Discuss the diversity of marine microbes
  • Account for the microenvironment and physico-chemical boundary conditions that constrain microbial activity and behavior in the marine environment.
  • Account for all major types of microbial metabolism in the marine environment.
  • Account for the role of marine microorganisms in biogeochemical element cycling and ecosystem functioning.
  • Account for important interactions between virus, bacteria, archaea and protists in the marine environment.
  • Account for the role of marine microbes in symbioses, disease and other beneficial/harmful effects of microbes in natural ecosystems, aquaculture and fisheries.
  • Account for current gaps in the understanding of marine microbes.

See Absalon.

An introductory course in marine biology or microbiology is an advantage.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
Course work involves 1.5 days of formal teaching per week, consisting of a mixture of lectures, practicals/​demonstrations, discussion classes including student presentations and theoretical exercises. Formalized homework includes preparation of student presentations, written reports/essays, as well as preparation of discussion classes.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 24
  • Class Instruction
  • 12
  • Preparation
  • 115
  • Theory exercises
  • 36
  • Practical exercises
  • 10
  • Excursions
  • 8
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 minutes
Type of assessment details
The final evaluation of the course consists of an oral examination in one of the course themes and the associated parts of the Learning Outcome. The examination consists of a 10 minutes presentation by each student followed by a 20 minutes examination and discussion. There is 30 min. preparation time.
The oral presentation counts 100% of the grade.
Exam registration requirements

In order to be allowed to the final exam, written reports/essays must be "accepted" by the responsible teacher before the final exam.

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

The same as the ordinary exam.

If the requirement (written reports/essays) is not fulfilled the student must hand in new or revised written reports/essays no later than three weeks before the reexam.



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.