NPLK17001U  Advanced Microbial Biotechnology

Volume 2019/2020

MSc Programme in Biology-Biotechnology


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 sustainable agriculture, and how microbial cells and enzymes can be used for the production of industrial enzymes, pharmaceutical molecules and food ingredients. Teachers from University of Copenhagen will give the core lectures; guest teachers from the 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 enzymes and food ingredients. Isolation of microorganisms and enzymes from extreme and non-extreme environments. Characterisation of enzymes. Enzymatic and whole cell production of pharmaceutical secondary metabolites and oligo- and polysaccharides for food applications.

- 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.

- Environmental microbial biotechnology. Design and application of recombinant, whole-cell bacterial biosensors and advanced molecular tools for environmental biomonitoring of conventional and emerging contaminants. Bio-degradation and -remediation of organic compounds and xenobiotics in soil and water. Microbial regulation of off-flavour metabolites in drinking water and aquaculture. 

Learning Outcome

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.


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.

Describe general methods on the use of microorganisms in biofertilisation, biocontrol, and environmental monitoring 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.



Evaluate the application potentials of microorganisms in agriculture, environmental monitoring, 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 further analyse application of microorganisms in industrial, agricultural, environmental biotechnology.

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.
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 min
with 30 min preparation.
Weight: Examination in reports and preparations from group work: 30%
Examination in textbook, reviews and original papers: 70%
Exam registration requirements

80% attendance during group work. Article work, reports and presentations done in groups during the course must be uploaded to Absalon/Canvas and approved.

All aids allowed

However, no Internet access is allowed at the exam.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

As the ordinary exam.

If the report, presentation and article work done in groups have not been handed in and approved, an individual assignment must be handed in and approved one week before re-exam.

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

Criteria for exam assesment

See Learning Outcome.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Colloquia
  • 40
  • Exam
  • 2
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 89
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • Total
  • 206