A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide fundamental knowledge about cytology and physiology of microorganisms, with emphasis to their role in nature and their use in agricultural biotechnology, in relation to soil fertility, biogeochemical cycles, and microbial interactions with plants and animals. Laboratory activity will allow the students to practice the basic techniques to grow and characterize soil microorganisms.
Expected learning outcomes
Basic knowledge about general and ecological microbiology, in order to understand the role of microbial physiological groups associated with agricultural ecosystem. Knowledge of basic microbiological techniques.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Students who attended the module "Microbiologia Agraria" will be evaluated orally using the Microsoft Teams platform.
Course syllabus
Introduction to the course Programme and objectives. The lectures are accompanied by laboratory activities. General information on laboratory activities. Exam rules. Cell morphology, cytology and microbiological techniques. Evolutionary relationships among prokaryotes (Bacteria and Archea) and with Eukarya. Bacterial morphology. Morphology, physiology, ecology and taxonomy of Fungi. Prokaryotic cell structure: wall, surface structures, cytoplasmatic membrane, ribosome, inclusions, genome. Endospore; structure and formation. Essentials of microscopy techniques and instrumentation. Biofilms. Microbial nutrition and growth. Nutritional requirements of microorganisms and metabolic options to obtain energy. Lab culture of microorganisms. Aerobic, facultative, microaerophilic, strictly anaerobic bacteria. Oxygen tolerance. Microbial growth: definition, measurements, continuous culture; environmental conditions and microbial growth (nutrients, pH, temperature, oxygen etc.). Physical and chemical antimicrobial control. Metabolism regulation Microbial genetics. Bacterial genetic elements: chromosome, plasmides and transposons. Mutation: screening and selection of mutants. Horizontal gene transfer among bacteria: transformation, conjugation, transduction. Bacteriophage: lytic and lysogenic pathways. Viroids and prions. Microbial metabolism. Energetic metabolisms. Aerobic respiration of organic compounds; oxygenases and degradation of organic compounds. Applications: acetic acid production, composting and aerobic treatment of polluted soils. Chemiolitotrophy. Anaerobic respiration. Applications: wastewater treatment, desulfurication of cultural heritage and methane production. Main fermentations and related fermenting groups. Oxygenic and anoxygenic photosynthesis and photosynthetic bacteria. Nitrogen fixation and its application. Plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR). Microbial ecology. Biogeochemical cycles and related microorganisms. Associations among microorganisms, with plants (mycorrhizae, actinorhizae and rhizobes), and with animals (rumen, intestinal tract). Criteria and methods in bacterial taxonomy. Laboratory course: basic aseptic techniques; streak-plate technique, spread and pour plating, plate counts, isolation to obtain pure cultures; optical observations of wet mount preparations. DNA extraction from pure cultures and gel electrophoresis.
Prerequisites for admission
Being familiar with cells and chemical reactions, in particular oxidation-reduction reactions.
Teaching methods
Lectures will be held on the Microsoft Teams platform (online streaming according to the schedule). Live streaming will be recorded and available on MT or Ariel website. If the health situation allows it, there will be activities in person in the classroom, of which the students will be promptly informed through news on the Ariel website.
8 lab lectures will be offered as videos on the Ariel website and 8 hours in person in the lab.
Teaching Resources
Videos on MT o Ariel. Supplementary readings: M. T. Madigan, K. S. Bender, D. H. Buckley, W. M. Sattley, D. A. Stahl, Brock Biology of Microorganisms, Global Edition Paperback - 26 Mar 2018
Assessment methods and Criteria
WRITTEN EXAMINATION: multiple choice questions on the entire program (62 questions, 50 minutes).
Further examination mode reserved exclusively to students attending the lab in person (8 hours): Interim written examination on the first part of the programme to be held in November (duration 30 minutes, 31 multiple choice questions), followed by a written examination on the second part of the programme to be performed by February 2021 (duration 30 minutes, 31 multiple choice questions).
AGR/16 - AGRICULTURAL MICROBIOLOGY - University credits: 6
Laboratories: 16 hours
Lessons: 40 hours
Educational website(s)
Mondays 14:00-15:00 (by email appointment)
Room 3019, 3rd floor, Via Mangiagalli 25