Environmental microbiology and bioremediation (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturers
Antonella Furini, Silvia Lampis
Antonella Furini
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
I semestre dal Oct 1, 2020 al Jan 29, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course aims at providing students with an in-depth knowledge of microbially catalyzed reactions in different environmental contexts, both terrestrial and aquatic, in order to understand the potential that bacterial and fungal populations have in influencing ecological niches with their own metabolism and to be, in turn, conditioned by the physical-chemical and tropho-edaphic parameters of the habitats which they live in. All that above with the objective of transferring competences for the exploitation of bacterial and fungal biocatalysis in actions aimed at clean up of polluted sites, as a consequence of human activities, or at the containment of microbiological risk deriving from the spread of microbial species potentially harmful to both man and environment. Furthermore, different processes of phytoremediation for the reclamation of soils and waters polluted with heavy metals and organic compounds.


Main sources/causes of environmental pollution by toxic organic compounds of either natural or synthetic origin (xenobiotic compounds) and heavy metals/metalloids. Type of contamination: hot spot/ chronic; environmental conditions: aerobic/ anaerobic.
Bioremediation techniques. Main strategies for bioremediation of soils, sediments, superficial and deep waters: in situ and ex situ (off site/ on site) techniques. Bioremediation of soils and sediments: biostimulation, bioaugmentation, natural attenuation, bioventing, land-farming and transformation in bioreactor
Bioremediation of environmental matrices polluted by organic toxic compounds of either natural or synthetic origin. Analysis of case studies regarding contamination by: i) aliphatic hydrocarbons; ii) aromatic hydrocarbons; iii) PCB; iv) PFAS.
Bioremediation of environmental matrices polluted by heavy metals and metalloids. Analysis of case sudies regarding contamination by: i) arsenic; ii) selenium; iii) cadmium.
Biological techniques for the remediation of co-contaminated soils
Analysis of microbial communities through culture-dependent and culture-independent approach in complex environmental matrices: soil, sediment, water (Prof Lampis).
Use of plants for in situ removal of contaminants. Phyto-remediation: advantages and limitations.
Analysis of metal hyperaccumulator plants.
Different processes of phytoremediation: degradation, stabilization, volatilization, stimulation, extraction of contaminants from soils and waters.
Phytoremediation of inorganic compounds: role of chelators and membrane transporters.
Phytoremediation of organic compounds: role of plant-microorganism interactions for the phytodegradation.
Uptake and transport of organic compounds, their degradation and accumulation in plant cell wall. Transgenic plants for the reclamation of soils contaminated with heavy metals and organic compounds.
Biomonitoring of environmental pollution: assay available, methods and applications (Prof. Furini)

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam will include an oral presentation of a scientific article at the end of the course (chosen by the student among a list of articles proposed by the teachers), followed by an oral examination focused on the course program.