NPLK17001U Advanced Microbial Biotechnology

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Biotechnology
MSc Programme in Biotechnology with a minor subject
MSc Programme in Environmental Science


The aim of the course is to give the students a fundamental, theoretical background in microbial biotechnology, which can be defined as "any technological application that uses microbiological communities and systems, microbial organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use”. In the course, the student will learn about how engineered whole cell systems can be used for analysis and bioremediation of pollutants in the environment, how individual microorganisms and consortia can be used for improving, for example, sustainable agriculture, and how microbes can be used for the production of industrially relevant enzymes, pharmaceutical molecules or food ingredients. Teachers from University of Copenhagen will give the core lectures; guest teachers from the relevant partners e.g. biotech industry will be involved in specific topics during the course.


The following topics will be covered:

  • Microbial diversity as the basis for microbial biotechnology. Ecosystem services provided by microorganisms and their links to industrial, agricultural and environmental microbial biotechnology applications. The importance of identification and classification of microorganisms. Analysis of microbial populations in natural or engineered environments.
  • Industrial microbial biotechnology for the production of relevant specialised (secondary) metabolites and enzymes. Isolation of microorganisms from diverse environments. Production and formulation of microorganisms. Production and detection of specialised metabolites.
  • Microbial biotechnology in agriculture. Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria as biofertilizers. Microbes stimulating abiotic stress tolerance, e.g., drought and salt stress. Biocontrol of plant pathogens by microorganisms (biological control agents). The impact of microorganisms causing plant disease including mycotoxins.
  • Environmental microbial biotechnology. Bio-degradation and -remediation of organic compounds and xenobiotics, e.g. in water or soil systems. Microbial regulation of pollutants in drinking water. Application of probiotic microbes for water treatment in the aquaculture industry. 
  • Biotechnology of bacteriophages. Bacteriophages as effective antimicrobials in biocontrol setups. Problems linked to the presence of bacteriophages in industrial microbial production. Bacteriophages as a source of novel enzymes for biotechnology. It is expected that the overall outcome from this course is to provide an understanding of the biological principles that can be manipulated using microorganisms and microbial consortia and the means by which this can be achieved.
Learning Outcome

It is expected that the overall outcome from this course is to provide an understanding of the biological systems that can be manipulated using microorganisms, including bacteriophages, and microbial consortia, and the means and technologies by which this can be achieved.


After completion of the course the students should be able to:



  • Describe the basis for classification of microorganisms
  • Display an overview of processes within industrial, agricultural, and environmental biotechnology, where microorganisms can be used and combatted where they cause disease and spoilage
  • Describe general methods on the use of microorganisms in biofertilisation, biocontrol and remediation
  • Present an overview of how knowledge of the role of microorganisms in plant-microbe interactions can be exploited
  • Describe how microorganisms that produce enzymes and other bioactive molecules can be isolated
  • Present an overview of using bacteriophages in biotechnology



  • Evaluate the application potentials of microorganisms in agriculture, bioremediation, and industrial processes and as sources of enzymes and other bioactive molecules
  • Critically evaluate the role of microorganisms in specific biotechnological processes
  • Classify a specific microorganism using physiological and DNA-based methods
  • Describe microbiological and molecular methods for investigation of microorganisms and pollutants in complex environments



  • Apply knowledge on microbial biotechnological methodology to analyse application of microorganisms in industrial, agricultural, environmental biotechnology further.

Review papers and original research papers as specified in the course curriculum. In addition, information on specific literature, including specific editions and publishing year will be informed on Canvas/Absalon

The students are expected to have passed a BSc level course in microbiology

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
Teaching at the course will include lectures, colloquia and group work.
Lectures and colloquia: Each week will have a specific topic and lectures and colloquia will be held by scientists working within this specific topic.
Group work: Students will work in small groups on a microbial biotechnology theme selected by the students themselves. Papers central for the topic will be selected by the teachers and the students and the groups shall prepare a short report and a presentation (e.g. in PowerPoint) of the selected topic by the end of the course.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Class Instruction
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 89
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • Exam
  • 2
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

Feedback will be given as written comments to reports and group work, and as in dialoque during colloquium and exercises.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 minutes (30-minute preparation time)
Type of assessment details
Examination in the microbial biotechnology theme and preparations from group work: 30%
Examination in textbook, reviews and original papers: 70%
Exam registration requirements

80% attendance during group work. The project report must be approved.

All aids allowed

However, no Internet access is allowed at the exam.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
There will be two internal examiners

If the requirement for the exam is met - the exam will be as the ordinary exam.

If the requirement for exam has not been met, the student must contact the course responsible latest 3 week before the re-exam to discuss an individual assignment that has to be handed in at the latest one week before the re-exam. 

The exam will then be 30 min with 30 min preparation, and the assessment will be made based on examination on the individual assignment (30%) and examination in textbook, reviews and original papers (70%).

Criteria for exam assesment

See Learning Outcome