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).

Oral examination. Aimed at verifying: the knowledge and the level of in depth analysis of the fundamentals of microbiology, both as concepts and techniques (lab activities); the ability to link different topics; the awareness of microbiology applications and consequences on human life.

Voto Finale

Introduction and training goals
The course of general microbiology is at 2nd semester of the 2nd year. The course is essentially focused on the biology of prokaryotes, starting from the peculiar structural and functional features of microorganisms up to the analysis of the interaction with the other organisms and their role in different contests.
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 use of microorganisms in biotechnology. At the end of the course the student must have acquired theoretical and operational skills related to the biology of the prokaryotes and to their use in biotechnological fields.

Knowledge and understanding (Knowledge and know)
Knowing and being able to communicate, using a scientifically correct language, the topics described below. Being able to link the studied topics to the other biological knowledge. Being aware of the potential biotechnological applications and / or consequences of prokaryotes biology as regards the health, the environment, and the industry.

Applying knowledge and understanding (Skills and know how)
Knowing and using the basic conventional and molecular techniques aimed at isolating, identifying and studying prokaryotes. Being able to plan and to analyse the data of simple experiments and communicate them using a scientifically correct language.

Microbial cell structure and function. (approx. 4 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. 4 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. 4 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. 2 h) Species concept in microbiology. Classification and nomenclature. Conventional and molecular taxonomy methods.
Virus. (approx. 6 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.
Microbial interactions with humans. (approx. 6 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.
The biotechnologcal applications of microorganisms: (approx. 3 h)
Antibiotics. (approx. 3 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. 2 h)

Lab: Aseptical techniques, solid and liquid cultures, viable count, differential media and stains, biofilm.

D.R. Wessner “Microbiologia”, Casa editrice Ambrosiana, 2015.
The slides shown during lectures will be available on e-learning site.


Lectures (5 CFU), practical laboratory lessons (1 CFU).
Lectures are supported by slides. 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.