The Course aims to introduce the students to the fundamentals, the main methods of investigation and the basic applications of microbiology, with reference to both activity and properties of the microorganisms either prokaryotes or eukaryotes, including bacteria, archaebacteria, yeasts, filamentous fungi and - in a distinguished position as non-cellular biological forms - the viruses. During the first part of the Course, topics will be discussed such as morphology and structure, genetics and biochemical-metabolic diversity, evolution and ecology of the microorganisms, according to the mechanisms through which these microbes interact with the surrounding environment. In the second part of the Course, the microorganisms will be analyzed as means for either research purposes or different biotechnological applications, with particular mention to the methods of cultivation and control of their growth and metabolism.
First Part (A). 1.A Principles of microbiology - 1.1a) Aspects of the microbial life. 1.2a) Macromolecules of microbial interest. 1.3a) Structure and function of the microbial cell: prokaryotes and eukaryotes. 1.4a) Nutrition, cultivation and metabolism of microorganisms. 1.5a) Microbial growth and methods for the control of microbial growth. 1.6a) Elements of molecular biology of microorganisms. 1.7a) Regulation of the microbial metabolism. 1.8a) Basic aspects of virology. 1.9a) Fundamentals of bacterial genetics. 2.A Evolutionary microbiology and microbial diversity – 2.1a) Theory of evolution within microorganisms and microbial taxonomy. 2.2a) Diversity of prokaryotes: bacteria and archaebacteria. 2.3a) Diversity of eukaryotic microorganisms. 2.4a) Principles of microbial genomic. 2.5a) Diversity of viruses. 3.A Metabolic diversity and microbial ecology – 3.1a) Diversity of microbial metabolic processes for energy production and carbon assimilation. 3.2a) Methods in microbial ecology. 3.3a) Structure of different microbial ecosystems. 3.4a) Biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur. 3.5a) Introduction to soil microbiology and interactions plant-microorganisms.
Second Part (B). 1.B Genetic engineering and biotechnology of microorganisms - 1.1b) Techniques in microbial genetic engineering. 1.2b) Applications of microorganisms in basic research. 1.3b) Microorganisms for the management of environmental problems. 1.4b) Microorganisms and agriculture. 1.5b) Microorganisms and food production. 1.6b) Exploitation of microorganisms in non-food industrial productions.
Written mid-term exams with both descriptive answers and multi-choice quizzes.
Possible integration with a final oral examination