1.89 | Fall 2004 | Graduate

Environmental Microbiology


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Overview

This class provides a general introduction to the diverse roles of microorganisms in natural and artificial environments. It will cover topics including: cellular architecture, energetics, and growth; evolution and gene flow; population and community dynamics; water and soil microbiology; biogeochemical cycling; and microorganisms in biodeterioration and bioremediation.

Course Outline

  • Introduction: Lecture 1
    Scope, syllabus, requirements, history of (environmental) microbiology.
  • Cell Biology and Genetics: Lectures 2-5
    Observation tools, chemical composition of microbial cells, cell structure, genetic elements, mutation and genetic exchange, taxonomy and phylogeny.
  • Biosynthesis and Fuelling: Lectures 6-7
    Metabolism, anabolism, key enzymes, biosynthesis, nutrient assimilation, fuelling reactions, energetics.
  • Metabolic Diversity: Lectures 8-12
    Aerobic respirations, diversity of aerobic metabolism, fermentation, anaerobic respirations, anaerobic food chains, autotrophy, regulation of activity.
  • Methods: Lectures 13-16
    Problems, sampling, detection, identification, enumeration, biomass, activity.
  • Populations, Communities, Ecosystems: Lectures 17-18
    Interactions within and between populations, interactions with plants and animals, structure and dynamic of communities, abiotic factors.
  • Applied Environmental Microbiology: Lectures 19-23
    Biodeterioration, solid and liquid wastes, bioremediation, biodegradation, biological pest control.


Madigan, M., J. Martinko, and J. Parker. Brock Biology of Microorganisms. 10th ed. New York: Prentice Hall, 2002. ISBN: 0130662712.

The book is a comprehensive microbiology text. We will primarily rely on the chapters covering molecular biology, metabolism, microbial diversity, and ecology. Unfortunately, there is currently no textbook available that covers all aspects of the course.


Participation 10
Assignments 30
Midterms (2) 30
Final Paper 30
Total 100

Participation includes engagement in discussions in class.

Assignments are generally based on discussion in class or of assigned readings. Assignments are due at the end of class.

The two midterms will cover material discussed in class and covered by readings. The dates for the midterms will be arranged in class.

The final paper may take the form of a review or a proposal.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2004