69686 - Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Low Carbon Technologies and Sustainable Chemistry (cod. 9246)

Learning outcomes

To know the fundamentals of applied biochemistry and microbiology and technology necessary for the development, management and optimization of existing and new bioprocesses for the sustainable chemical and biobased industry (biorefineries), the valorization of their waste and effluents.

Course contents

Nutritional requirements of micro-organisms and metabolism of biogenic compounds.

Aerobic respiration of organic compounds: glycolysis, Krebs cycle and oxidative phosphorylation. Examples and main features of industrial and environmental relevant microorganisms respiring aerobically biogenic organic compounds.

Anaerobic metabolism of organic compounds: nitrate-reduction, Fe(III)-reduction, sulphate-reduction, HCO3— reduction (methanogenesis and acetogenesis). Main features of major industrially and environmentally relevant microorganisms using such respiration routes.

Fermentation of carbohydrates and proteins: fermentation pathways of major relevance for industrial and environmental processes and main features of microorganisms responsible for them.

Anaerobic digestion of organic matter and biowaste and its industrial and environmental relevance.

Biotransformation pathways for inorganic compounds in aerobic habitats, such as nitrification, S° or S= -oxidation, Fe(II) oxidation, and main features of microorganisms responsible for them.

Basics of CO2 autotrophic fixation and of anoxygenic and oxygenic photosynthesis.

Occurrence and distribution of different microbes and microbial processes in the major aquatic and terrestrial natural habitats.

Major organic and inorganic xenobiotic pollutants entering the environment and microorganisms mainly involved in their biotransformation and detoxification. Main biodegradation pathways for aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, including chlorinated derivatives, in aerobic and anaerobic polluted environments.

Mixed cultures, co-cultures and pure (axenic) cultures and conventional and molecular procedures for their characterization and improvement. Conservation of microbial cultures.

Strategies and operational steps associated with the development of an industrial biotechnology process: feed-stocks for white biotechnology processing (agricultural and forest biomass, and agro-food industry by-products, effluents, waste and surplus); selection and improvement of the microbial strain; selection and preparation of the cultivation medium; preparation of the inoculum; selection of the reactor; sterilization of the reactor and the cultivation medium; conduction mode of the process (batch, fed-batch and continuous); recovery and purification of the product.

Biochemical, microbiological and technological aspects associated with the production of yeast, microbial proteins, amino acids (L-glutamic acid, L-lysine), vitamins (B12, C), organic acids (citric, lactic), antibiotics (penicillins), butandiol, biofuels, microbial polymers.

Main techniques for the ex-situ and in-situ bioremediation of contaminated soils and aquifers: microbiological and technological aspects.


Madigan M.T. Martinko J.M., Parker J. (2002) Brock: Biology of Microorganisms.10th Edition, Prentice Hall International, Inc . New Jersey, USA

Ratledge C., Kristiansen B. (2006) Basic Biotechnology, III Edition, Cambridge University Press, London

Glazer A.N., Nikaido H. (1997) Microbial Biotechnology- Fundamentals of Applied Microbiology. 2nd Edition. WH Freeman and Company, New York.

Ulber R., Sell D. (2007) White Biotechnology, Vol. 105 of the series Advances in Biochemical Engineering / Biotechnology, Springer, EU and USA.

Rittmann B.E., McCarty P.L. (2001) Environmental Biotechnology: principles and applications. McGraw-Hill Higher education, New York, USA

Teaching methods

Class lectures

Assessment methods

Achievements will be assessed by the means of a final oral exam, through which the knowledge level acquired by the student on the topics covered in the class, his/her ability to present them clearly and with command of language and to discuss them critically will be evaluated.

Higher grades will be awarded to students who demonstrate an organic understanding of the subject, a high ability for critical application, and a clear and concise presentation of the contents.

To obtain a passing grade, students are required to at least demonstrate a knowledge of the key concepts of the subject, some ability for critical application, and a comprehensible use of technical language.

A failing grade will be awarded if the student shows knowledge gaps in key-concepts of the subject, inappropriate use of language, and/or logic failures in the analysis of the subject.

Office hours

See the website of Giulio Zanaroli


Good health and well-being Responsible consumption and production

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