21365 - General Microbiology

Course Unit Page


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

Zero hunger Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

After this course, the student knows the structural, physiological and metabolic characteristics of the various microbial species particularly involved in oenological processes

Course contents

Introduction. What is microbiology and general descriptions. Difinition of microrganisms and importance of the microbiological heritage in oenological field.

Bacterial classification. Phylogenesis. Methods for classification; genotype and phenotype. Definition of microbial species. Taxonomy of Bacteria: most important Phyla (Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria). Characteristics of the main microbial groups particularly of oenological interest.

Taxonomy of fungi: yeasts and moulds. Sexual and asexual reproduction among fungi: ascomycetes and basidiomycetes.

Structure of cells. Composition and functions of the microbial cells. Eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells: differences and common traits. Morphology and structure of microbial cells.

Microbial growth. Culture media: definition, classification, preparation. Microbial counting. Microbial growth curve: lag, exponential, stationary ans death phase. Diauxic growth. Chemostats. Homeostasis. Main factors able to influence growth curve: temperature, pH, aw and oxygen.

Nutrition and transport systems. Chemical component of cells. Energy (phototrophy, chemiotrophy, lithotrophy). Organic substance (autotrophy and organotrophy). Growth factors. Transport systems (primary, secundary group translocation).

Microbial metabolism. Energetic strategies. Fermentation and respiration. Electronic chain, redox potential and bioenergetics. Membrane carrier (NADH, quinones, cytochrome, Fe S proteins, flavoproteins). Proton Motive Force (PFM). ATP and CoA. Steps of the generation of PFM. ATPase

Energetic pathways. Glicolysis, Entner Doudoroff pathway. Oxidation of pentose phosphate. Fermentations: homolactic, heterolactic, alcoholic, mixed acid, butandiolic, acetic, butyric, propionic, homoacetic, bifidobacteria pathway, Stickland reaction. Aerobic and anaerobic respiration. Krebs cycle.  Catabolism of macromolecules.

Assimilative metabolism and biosynthesis. Key intermediate products. Gluconeogenesis. Calvin pathway. Nitrogen assimilation. Sulphur assimilation. Phosphate assimilation. Aminoacid biosynthesis, Nucleotide biosynthesis.


Virus: Viral structure. Genetic material in viruses. Steps of viral replication.

Practical training in laboratory will be held by Dott. Giorgia Gozzi (2 CFU).

Laboratory work will provide students an opportunity to apply theoretical and conceptual knowledge and will include:

  • use of an optical microscope to observe different cell morphologies: bacteria, yeasts and moulds
  • techniques for the purification and characterization of microbial isolates
  • staining to differentiate and highlight components of the microbial cells: Gram and spore staining
  • physiological and enzymatic test for the characterization of microbial isolates: catalase, oxidase, oxidation/fermentation tests
  • identification of isolates by API tests
  • enumeration of cell cultures through direct and direct methods: optical density, Thoma cell counting chamber, direct plate counting
  • evaluation of cell growth by plate counting techniques (inclusion and surface inoculum)
  • analysis and discussion of experimental data: construction of growth curves and determination of growth parameters


Brock. Biologia dei microrganismi. Microbiologia generale, ambientale e industriale. Pearson Editors

Teaching methods

Theorical lessions and pratical laboratory course. If possible, seminars and lectures with experts in the field will be organized. Also guided tour in food industry, when possible, will be planned.

Assessment methods

The preparation of the students will be tested through a test with two types of questions. There are three open questions for each of which a maximum score of three points will be assigned. Then there are 25 multiple choice questions, for each of which a maximum of one points will be assigned. The time available to complete the test is 90 minutes. Text books, notes, and other tools are not admitted. The test is passed if a score of 18 points is reached. Score of 33 determines the obtaining of laude.

Teaching tools

Slides and seminars

Office hours

See the website of Francesca Patrignani

See the website of Giorgia Gozzi