General Microbiology (2011/2012)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Giovanni Vallini
Giovanni Vallini
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
I semestre dal Oct 3, 2011 al Jan 31, 2012.

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course students should be able to: • Compare and distinguish the basic groups of microbes, including prokaryotic microbes (Archaea, Bacteria), viruses, and eukaryotic microbes (yeasts and fungi). • Understand the processes needed for one bacterium to become two, and understand the mechanisms involved. • Compare and contrast major pathways of catabolism, specify the relative energy yield from each pathway, list the key products of each pathway, and describe biochemical pathways used for microbial taxonomy. • Compare and contrast major pathways of biosynthesis and list the key products of each pathway. • Draw a typical microbial growth curve, and predict the effect of different environmental conditions on the curve. • Compare and contrast eukaryotic and prokaryotic genomes, and gene expression in each group. • Compare and contrast the acquisition of novel genetic information in microbes via mutations and genetic exchange, specifically conjugation, transformation and transduction, • Specify the role of microbes in global C, N, S, and P cycles, and list examples of microbes that contribute to key metabolic aspects of these cycles, including biotransformation/biodegradation reactions possibly exploitable in environmental bioremediation • List different types of symbiotic interactions between microbes and other organisms, including commensalism, mutualism, and parasitism, and provide examples of each. • Summarize common features of microbial pathogens, with emphasis on bacterial and viral pathogens. • Summarize mechanisms of animal defenses to infection, including primary defenses, innate immunity, and acquired immunity. • Compare and contrast beneficial and harmful uses of organisms, including applications in biotechnology and bio-terrorism. • Have a solid grasp of the scope of the microbial world and its role in shaping this planet and all its inhabitants.


SYLLABUS – PART A. 1.A Microbiology fundamentals - 1.1a) Aspects of microbial life. 1.2a) Macromolecules of microbial interest. 1.3a) Structure and function of the microbial cell: Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes. 1.4a) Principles of nutrition, cultivation and metabolism among microorganisms. 1.5a) Microbial growth and methods for the control of microbial growth in microbes. 1.6a) Elements of molecular biology of microorganisms. 1.7a) Regulation of microbial metabolism. 1.8a) Introduction to virology. 1.9a) Basic aspects of microbial genetics. 2.A Microbial evolution and diversity – 2.1a) Theory of microbial evolution and taxonomy. 2.2a) Diversity of prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaebacteria. 2.3a) Diversity microbial eukaryotes. 2.4a) Introduction to microbial genomics. 2.5a) Virus diversity. 3.A Metabolic diversity and microbial ecology – 3.1a) Diversity of energy production and carbon utilization among microorganisms. 3.2a) Principles and methods in microbial ecology. 3.3a) Structure of microbial ecosystems. 3.4a) Biogeochemical cycles of C, N and S. 3.5a) Principles of soil microbiology and plant/microbes interactions. PART B. Genetic engineering and microbial biotechnology - 1.1b) Introduction to microbial genetic engineering. 1.2b) Application of microbes in fundamental research. 1.3b) Environmental microbiology and biotechnology. 1.4b) Microorganisms and agriculture. 1.5b) Microbes in food production. PART C. 1.C Microbial interactions with humans - 1.1c) Pathogenicity mechanisms: virulence factors and toxins. 1.2c) Antibiotics, antimycotics and antivirals. 1.3c) Resistance mechanisms. 2.C Microbial diseases - 2.1c) Person-to-person microbial diseases. 2.2c) Animal-transmitted and soilborne microbial diseases. 2.3c) Basic aspects of immunology. 3.C Introduction to epidemiology and public hygiene.

TEXTBOOK - The textbook for this course is Brock Biology of Microorganisms (International Edition) 12th Edition by Michael Madigan, John Martinko, Paul Dunlap, David Clark, Thomas Brock (2008), ISBN13: 9780321536150; ISBN10: 0321536150. The textbook will be used as a resource for both the lecture and lab portions of this course. Pages of the textbook that correlate with the corresponding lecture topics will be indicated properly. Reading the textbook may help students understand and be able to apply concepts presented in class but, unless specifically noted in class, you will not be tested on topics that are not discussed in the lecture or lab.

Assessment methods and criteria

Written examination