GENERAL MICROBIOLOGY

Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in SCIENZE BIOLOGICHE
Academyc year when starting the degree: 
2018/2019
Year: 
2
Academyc year when helding the course: 
2019/2020
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Language: 
Italian
Credits: 
9
Period: 
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
77
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (64 hours), Exercise (9 hours), Laboratory (4 hours)
Requirements: 

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.

Assessment: 
Voto Finale

General objectives of Microbiology are coherent with some objectives of Biological Science Course, such as to provide the basis of microorganism biology. One aim is to give to the students the fundaments necessary to understand the morpho-functional and biochemical features of microorganisms, in order to distinguish prokaryotic from eukaryotic cells and to appreciate the role of microorganisms in the life sciences. A short experience in teaching laboratory will focus the student on team working, data discussion and analysis under a multidisciplinary view. Few economical, etical and social aspects related to the microbiology will be introduced. 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 inclusion. (8 hrs)
• 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. (8 hrs)
• 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. (12 hrs)
• Systematics. Species concept in microbiology. Classification and nomenclature. Conventional and molecular taxonomy methods. (4 hrs)
• 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. Environmental biotechnology applications: examples. (2 hrs)
• Nitrogenum fixation (2 hrs)
• 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. (2 hrs)
• 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. (6hrs)
• 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. (4 hrs)
• Differentiation. Adaptation and differentiation. Endospores. Morphologic and physiologic differentiation in Streptomyces. Quorum sensing. Biofilm formation. (4 hrs)
• 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. (4 hrs)
• Antibiotics. Producers. Classification. Mechanisms of action. Methods for evaluating bacteria sensitivity to antibiotics. Biochemistry and genetics of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. (4 hrs)
• For each topic, representative groups of microorganisms will

• 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 inclusion. (8 hrs)
• 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. (8 hrs)
• 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. (12 hrs)
• Systematics. Species concept in microbiology. Classification and nomenclature. Conventional and molecular taxonomy methods. (4 hrs)
• 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. Environmental biotechnology applications: examples. (2 hrs)
• Nitrogenum fixation (2 hrs)
• 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. (2 hrs)
• 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. (6hrs)
• 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. (4 hrs)
• Differentiation. Adaptation and differentiation. Endospores. Morphologic and physiologic differentiation in Streptomyces. Quorum sensing. Biofilm formation. (4 hrs)
• 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. (4 hrs)
• Antibiotics. Producers. Classification. Mechanisms of action. Methods for evaluating bacteria sensitivity to antibiotics. Biochemistry and genetics of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. (4 hrs)
For each topic, representative groups of microorganisms will be described.

Power point presentation of lessons will be available on E-learning platform.
The following books are suggested:
- Dehò & Galli. Biologia dei microrganismi. CEA.
- Madigan et al. Brock Biology of microorganisms. 14th Edition. Pearson.

Convenzionale

Lectures (8 CFU), tutorials (0.75 CFU), practical laboratory lessons (025 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.

Upon appointment (email: Viviana.orlandi@uninsubria.it).

Borrowers