Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in BIOTECHNOLOGY
Academyc year when starting the degree: 
Academyc year when helding the course: 
Course type: 
Basic compulsory subjects
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (40 hours), Laboratory (16 hours)

It is not mandatory to have passed any examinations. However it is advisable to get several notions of Biochemistry (energetic metabolism), Genetics (mutations, selection of mutants, recombination processes in prokaryotes) and of Molecular Biology (DNA replication, transcription, translation).

Final Examination: 

Oral examination. The firstquestion will focus on skills acuired in laboratory. Two other questions will be aimed at verifying different topics linked to the fundamentals of microbiology and the awareness of microbiology to biotechnology applications.

Voto Finale

The course is essentially focused on the biology of prokaryotes, starting from the peculiar structural and functional features of microorganisms in order to understand the difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. One important goal is to give to the students the fundaments necessary for a correct approach to the study of microorganisms and to the comprehension of the use of microorganisms in biotechnology.

Microbial cell structure and function. (approx. 6 h) Structure, morphology, and size. Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya: a comparison. The cell wall: Gram positive, Gram negative, 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. (approx. 6 h) 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. (approx. 6 h) Energy production. Chemiotrophy. Fermentation. Aerobic respiration. Anaerobic respiration: denitrification, desulfurication, methanogenesis, homoacetogenesis. Chemiolitotro-phy and classes of chemiolitotrophic microorganisms. Oxygenic and anoxygenic photosynthesis. Biosynthesis. Organic compound and CO2 assimilation. Nitrogen fixation and assimilation. P and S assimilation.
Bacterial genetics. (approx. 6 h) 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.
Systematics. (approx. 4 h) Species concept in microbiology. Classification and nomenclature. Conventional and molecular taxonomy methods.
Microbial interactions with humans. (approx. 3 h) 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. (approx. 4 h) 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.
Yeast and biotechnological applications (approx. 1 h)
Virus. (approx. 2 h) General properties. Structure of the virion. Virus life cycle: overview. Culturing, detecting and counting viruses. Life cycles of some selected bacteriophages and animal viruses.
The biotechnological applications of microorganisms: (approx. 2 h)

The activity in laboratory will be planned in 3 or 4 days. The students will acquire different microbiological skills: aseptical techniques, preparation of solid and liquid cultures, viable count, differential media and Gram staining. They will identify a microorganism isolated from clinical or environmental samples. They will evaluate the activity of different antimicrobial compounds (antibiotics and disinfectants) by means of Kirby-Bauer test and MIC (Minimal Inhibitory Concentration) on isolated microorganisms.

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.


Lectures (5 CFU)and practical laboratory lessons (1 CFU).
Lectures are supported by slides and films. 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: