Environmental microbial biotechnology

A.Y. 2021/2022
6
Max ECTS
52
Overall hours
SSD
AGR/16
Language
English
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide students with the basic knowledge in the ecology of the environmental microbial communities, the "environmental microbiomes": how they are selected in natural and man-made ecosystems and how they can be explored and exploited to obtain an environmental benefit. This knowledge will be applied to the main environmental biotechnologies in order to understand their functioning and the scope for improvement.
Expected learning outcomes
The student will i) acquire the basic elements for the comprehension of the ecological and physiological mechanisms which sustain the functionality of environmental microbial communities, ii) understand the rational behind the "microbial resource management" approach in environmental biotechnologies, iii) gain an understanding about the main environmental microbial biotechnologies like bioremediation, sustainable bioenergy production and wastewater treatment, in terms of consolidated practices, problems still to be solved and research trends.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Responsible
Lesson period
Second semester
More specific information of the delivery modes of training activities for the academic year 2021-2022 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation
Course syllabus
The course will describe the potential of natural microbial communities to sustain environmental biotechnologies. After an overview of the ecological theories describing their assembly, the link between microbial diversity and function and its evaluation approaches, specific microbial biotechnologies will be described, aimed to i) environmental bioremediation (including wastewater treatment), ii) production of renewable energy from waste biomasses, iii) examples of environmental application of engineered microbes

Lessons in detail:
1) DIVERSITY AND FUNCTION IN MICROBIAL ECOSYSTEMS (1,5 CFU)
- environmental biotechnologies and microbial ecology
- systems biology and -omics
- analyses of diversity and function in microbial communities
2) MICROBIAL BIOTECHNOLOGIES FOR BIOREMEDIATION (2,5 CFU)
- principles and processes in bioremediation
- oil bioremediation
- reductive declorination
- rhyzoremediation
- metal bioremediation
- wastewater treatment
3) MICROBIAL BIOTECHNOLOGIES FOR THE PRODUCTION OF SUSTAINABLE ENERGY (1,5 CFU)
- anaerobic digestion: production of bioCH4 and bioH2
- microbial fuel cells: production of bioelectricity and H2
- biofuel from CO2 by litotrophic and phototrophic microorganisms
4) APPLICATIONS OF ENGINEERED MICROBES (0,5 CFU)
- microbial biosensors
- exploitation of extremophile bacteria and ​hydrocarbon degrading pathways
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge in: general microbiology and molecular biology; Chemistry; Biochemistry.
You can contact the teacher to obtain indications about texts and bibliographic references that can be studied to fill eventual knowledge gaps
Teaching methods
The course will consist in 22 frontal lessons and a field trip to visit one of the Milan wastewater treatment plants. If covid-19 related restrictions will not allow the visit, this will be substituted by virtual activities related to wastewater treatment
Teaching Resources
Slides showed during lessons and scientific papers dealing with the course topics will be provided to the students through the ARIEL platform (https://ariel.unimi.it/).
Assessment methods and Criteria
The final examination is based on the answer to 2-3 open questions on specific topics described during the course. The exam will be oral.

Specific procedures for students with disabilities or specific learning disabilities (DSA) will be applied also for telematic exams. Here the complete information:
https://www.unimi.it/en/study/student-services/services-students-specif…
https://www.unimi.it/en/study/student-services/services-students-disabi…
In case you need specific procedures, please inform the teacher by mail at least 10 days before the exam, including in the addresses ufficiodisabili@unimi.it or serviziodsa@unimi.it.
AGR/16 - AGRICULTURAL MICROBIOLOGY - University credits: 6
Practicals: 8 hours
Lessons: 44 hours
Professor: Borin Sara
Professor(s)
Reception:
everyday under appointment
office: via Mangiagalli 25, 3rd floor, Environmental Microbiology Section