66103 - Application Of Microbiology In The Environmental Field

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Planning and management of agro-territorial, forest and landscape (cod. 8532)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student has acquired up to date knowledge on  biodiversity of the microbial population in natural habitats like soil, water, plants, intestinal tracts and extreme environments. The student will be able to understand the application of probiotic strains in plants as bio-fertilizer and for the bio-control of pathogens and in animal as heath promoters. Additional learning outcomes will be from aspects related to managing and monitoring  bioremediation  of contaminated soil and water and on the use of microorganism for the production of bio-energy

Course contents

A) Prerequisites

For the course a basic preparation on general aspect of microbiology and biochemistry is requested

B) Didactic Units

The course is divided  in 3 courses . Each one provides theoretical lectures and practical  activities dealing with discussion of research and visit via Web of the main industries and SMS's. An excursion is also planned.

Course 1:

1) Aspects of agroenvironmental microbiology (total hours 15)

1.1 Role of microorganisms in biogeochemical cycles. Soil biodiversity, methods for the detection of the microbial communities. Association microorganisms-plants, nitrogen fixation. The phyllosphere microbiota. Ecological relationships between microorganisms. Extreme environments, characteristics of the extreme environments, halophilic and thermophilic microorganisms. The microbial biofilm. Microbial ecology of intestinal tracts in animals interaction between microorganism and relationships with the host.

1.2 Visit to the laboratories of environmental microbiology present at the Department of Agricultural Sciences. Discussion with the researchers on the projects going on.

2) Applications of agroenvironmental microbiology (total hours 25)

2.1 Overview of water microbiology as it relates to public health. Detection of indicator microorganism in environmental freshwaters and drinking. Wastewater treatment in different system: role of microorganism. Biotransformation and biodegradation. In situ bioremediation (bioventilation, bioaugmentation, biostimulation, phytoremediation) ex situ ( soil bioreactors, landfarming). Mirobial reistance and environment. Industrial production of microbial biomasses. Bioenergy  as methane, ethanol and hydrogen   obtained from microorganism.

2.2 Seminar on molecular techniques in microbial ecology.

2.3 Laboratory work to establish the microbiological water quality and isolation of microganisms from different agro-environmental sources.

Acquired knowledge on modules 1 e 2

Knowledge on different aspect of agroenvironmental microbiology connected to habitats like soil, water, plants, intestinal tracts and extreme environments. The student will be able to evaluate the applications of microorganisms in the field of bioremediation, water treatment,  production of bioenergy.:

3) Applications of agroenvironmental microbiology (total hours 20)

3.1 Selection and use of symbiotic bacteria in agriculture. Agrobacterium and genetic engineering. Plant growing promoting bacteria: interaction with the plant and the soil. Role of microorganism in the silage maturation, use of additive and/or starter culture.  Microorganism for biological control of pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Compost: Role of microorganism and optimization of environmental conditions. Bioplastics.

3.2 Visit to companies dealing with agroenvironmental aspects. 

Acquired knowledge on module 3

Application of probiotic strains in plants as bio-fertilizer and for the bio-control of pathogens. Visit of companies web-site.


Microbiologia Agroambientale" edited by Bruno Biavati & Claudia Sorlini. Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, Milano, Italy, 2012. ISBN 978-88-408-1383-7

Teaching methods

The course is based on 2 teaching units. Theoretical lectures and practical activities are provided.

1) Theoretical lectures. The student will acquire knowledge on microbial ecology, soil microbiology, agroenvironmental microbiology and application of microorganisms in the agro-environmental field.

2) Practical. It will refer to the recent research and applications, in addition an excursion to a company working on the field will be performed.

Assessment methods

The evaluation of the student will be acquired by oral examination. The questions are connected to the 3 units characterizing the course.

Teaching tools

The class rooms are equipped  with video and overhead projectors, PC  and Wi-Fi connection. The teacher will use the slides available with the text book. The practical parts will be performed in laboratories dedicated to this activities.

Office hours

See the website of Paola Mattarelli


Good health and well-being Clean water and sanitation Affordable and clean energy Sustainable cities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.