- Assessment methods
- Learning objectives
- Delivery method
- Teaching methods
Several notions of Biochemistry (metabolic pathways), Genetics (mutations, selection of mutants, recombination processes in prokaryotes) and of Molecular Biology (DNA replication, transcription, translation) are required.
Oral examination. Aimed at verifying: the knowledge and the level of in depth analysis of the fundamentals of microbiology, both as concepts and techniques (tutorials and lab activities); the ability to link different topics; the awareness of microbiology applications and consequences on human life.
General objectives: To give to the students the fundaments necessary for a correct approach to the study of microorganisms and to the comprehension of the role of microorganisms in the life sciences. At the end of the course the student must have acquired theoretical and operational skills related to the biology of the prokaryotes.
Microbial cell structure and function: Bacteria and Archaea. The cell membrane and the secretion and transport systems. Capsules and S-layers. Flagella and swimming motility. Chemotaxis and other taxis. Fimbriae and pili. Cytoplasm. Ribosomes. Nucleoid. Cell inclusions.
Microbial growth. Cell chemistry and nutritional requirements. Nutritional classes of microorganisms. Classes of culture media: defined, complex, selective and differential. Enrichment and pure culture techniques. Population growth. Measuring microbial growth: biomass and cell number determinations. Quantitative aspects and growth curve. Effects of environmental factors on microbial growth: temperature, pH, water availability, oxygen availability. Control of microbial growth: chemical and physical methods.
Metabolism. Energy production. Chemiotrophy. Fermentation. Aerobic respiration. Anaerobic respiration: denitrification, desulfurication, methanogenesis, homoacetogenesis. Chemiolitotrophy and classes of chemiolitotrophic microorganisms. Oxygenic and anoxygenic photosynthesis. Biosynthesis. Organic compound and CO2 assimilation. Nitrogen fixation and assimilation. P and S assimilation.
Systematics. Species concept in microbiology. Classification and nomenclature. Conventional and molecular taxonomy methods.
Biogeochemical cycles. The role of the microorganisms in the biogeochemical cycles. Carbon, nitrogen and sulphur cycles. Degradation of natural and synthetic organic compounds: an overview. Symbiosis for nitrogen fixation. Environmental biotechnology applications: examples.
Virus. General properties. Structure of the virion. Virus life cycle: overview. Culturing, detecting and counting viruses. Life cycles of some selected bacteriophages and animal viruses.
Bacterial genetics. Microbial genomes. Chromosome, plasmids, and other genetic elements. Mutations and mutants. Classes of mutants and selection methods. Horizontal gene transfer: conjugation, transformation, transduction. Genome plasticity and evolution.
Regulation of gene expression. How microorganisms sense the environment. Major modes of regulation: overview. Positive and negative transcriptional regulation of catabolic and anabolic operons. Global control networks: an overview.
Differentiation. Adaptation and differentiation. Endospores. Morphologic and physiologic differentiation in Streptomyces. Quorum sensing. Biofilm formation.
Microbial interactions with humans. Normal human microflora. Pathogenic bacteria: reservoirs and transmission. Pathogenicity and virulence. Virulence factors. Endotoxins and esotoxins. Molecular mechanisms of some selected exotoxins. Host defences: an overview.
Antibiotics. Producers. Classification. Mechanisms of action. Methods for evaluating bacteria sensitivity to antibiotics. Biochemistry and genetics of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
For each topic, representative groups of microorganisms will be described.
Dehò & Galli. Biologia dei microrganismi. CEA.
Madigan et al. Brock Biology of microorganisms. 14th Edition. Pearson.
Lectures (8 CFU), tutorials (0.5 CFU), practical laboratory lessons (0.5 CFU).
Lectures are supported by slides and films. Tutorials are carried out both as individual and group work and can make use of PC and simulation programs. For lab activities each student will be given a descriptive booklet and the protocol. During the lab activities the continuous presence of instructors is ensured. Students must wear a coat, other devices for personal protection will be supplied. Laboratory activities are mandatory, absences are permitted up to 25% of the activities. Students have to inform teachers and instructors about allergies.