Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (56 hours), Exercise (6 hours), Laboratory (8 hours)

Even if it is not mandatory to have passed any examinations. Several notions of of Biochemistry (metabolic patwhay of central metabolism), Genetics (mutations, selection of mutants, recombination processes in prokaryotes) and of Molecular Biology (DNA replication, transcription, translation) are required.

Examinations will be planned to follow the rules of the Course.
Oral examination will be aimed at verifying the following skills:
1. Description of morphological/functional and biochemical features of prokaryotic cells , using a scientifically correct language
2. Showing techniques and description of experienced performed in laboratory lessons
3. Solving simple problems on bacterial growth
4. Being able to describe the role of microorganisms on earth
5. Link the studied topics to the other biological knowledge. Being aware of the potential applications and / or consequences of prokaryotes biology as regards the health, the environment, and the industry.

It is necessary to know and describe the structure of prokaryotic cells and the techniques to cultivate bacteria in order to pass the exam. The evaluation will increase depending on the knowledge and the level of in depth analysis of the fundamentals of microbiology, both as concepts and techniques. It will be evaluated the ability to link different topics and being able to communicate, using a scientifically correct language.

Voto Finale

The course is essentially focused on the biology of prokaryotes, starting from the peculiar morphological, physiological, biochemical and functional features of microorganisms up to the analysis of the interaction with the other organisms. It is highlighted their role in scientific research, and applied biotechnology (from clinical to industrial applications). The acquired knowledge will complete the training of a biologist able to use microorganisms in biomolecular, clinical and environmental fields.
Learning outcomes:
At the end of the course, the student will be able to:
1. Describe the morphological/functional and biochemical features of prokaryotic cells
2. Highlight the differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
3. Know the most important bacterial taxon
4. Correlate the specific metabolic pathway to bacterial groups
5. Identify bacterial species through phonetic approach
6. Explain the traditional microbiological techniques
7. Solve simple bacterial growth problems
8. Recognize the role of microorganisms in nature and potential in applied microbiology
9. Consider the microbiological knowledge in a multidisciplinary context

- Microbial cell structure and function. 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. 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.
- 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.

The power point files of lessons will be on E-learning platform.
The teacher suggests the following book: Dehò & Galli. Biologia dei microrganismi. CEA.


The teaching activities are based on lectures, tutorials and practical laboratory lessons.
- Lectures are supported by slides and films.
- Tutorials are carried out as individual activities using documents given by teacher (exercises, problems, flaw chart, log unit chart). The student will solve simple microbiological problems: at first following examples and later autonomously.
- 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. Safety rules in a microbiological laboratory and basic microbiological techniques will be acquired (aseptical techniques, solid and liquid cultures Gram stain, bacterial identification, viable count)

Students may contact the teacher via e-mail at the following address: