67132 - Microbial Biotechnologies

Course Unit Page


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

Clean water and sanitation Affordable and clean energy Climate Action Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will have the basic knowledge on a few topics of industrial and environmental biotechnologies. In particular the student will know the molecular and metabolic features of those microorganisms used for i) biodegradtion of contaminants, ii) production of alternative energy sources as biogas, iii) enzyme production, and iv) development of commercial products with a high social impact.

Course contents


Course organization along with details on the assessment methods. Introduction to the various topics.

Microbial degradation of xenobiotics

Microbial degradation of linear and branched hydrocarbons. Degradation of aromatics. Dehalogenation of haloaromatics. Genetic regulation of the catabolic pathways for the organic contaminants degradation. Catabolic pathways' evolution.

Compounds production of bacterial origin

Microorganism used in agriculture. Production of insecticides of microbial origin. Microbial production of antibiotics.

Biotransformation of inorganics and their potential use in nanotechnologies

Bacterial interaction with bacterial cells. Mechanism of oxidation/reduction of inorganics to be used for bacterial growth. Nanowires: generalities and applications.

Bacterial cells and generation of biogas and electricity

Interaction of bacterial cells with anodes and cathodes for the production of electricity (MFC) and/or valuable commercial chemicals. Bacterial production of biogas: generalities and microroganisms used for CH4 and H2 production in anerobiosis and phototrophy.


The student will acquire:

1) basic methods for the isolation and characterization of environmental samples with specific physiological features.

2) a few molecular methods to characterize complex microbial communities aiming to search for specific functional genes involved in biotech applications.


No specific texbooks will be used. Instead, the students will be able to find on the web specific reviews and/or scientific publications covering the topics of the course. Alternatively, paper material will be distributed to students.

Teaching methods

The course topics will be explained to student by frontal lessons with the use of power point presentations.

To perform the laboratory experience, students will be divided in pairs.

Assessment methods

The exam will be carried out through a written exam with several open ended question and some multiple choice test.

For the laboratory part a multiple response test is provided.

Teaching tools

The teaching material illustrated during the lessons will be made available to students in electronic format.

Office hours

See the website of Stefano Fedi