29730 - General Agricultural Microbiology

Course Unit Page


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

Good health and well-being Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will gain knowledge concerning the structure, physiology, biochemistry and genetics of microorganisms as well as methods for studying the role of micro-organisms in the agricultural environment.

Course contents

The course is divided into 3 teaching units. Theoretical lectures dealing with basic microbiology and introduction to the application of microorganisms in the agro-environmental sector; in addition practical activities are provided.

1)Structure and function of the prokaryotic cell (total hours 30)

1.1 A brief history of microbiology; origin of microorganisms and their evolution; the role of 16S rRNA.
1.2 The prokaryotic cell. Component external to cell wall, the cell wall, the plasma membrane, capsules and slime layers. Bacteria Gram positive and Gram negative. The mechanism of Gram staining. The cytoplasmic matrix: the nucleoid, ribosomes and inclusions, the endospores. The bacterial motility. Microbial nutrition and growth. Microbial genetics: general principles, recombination, plasmids, conjugation, transformation and transduction. Principles of biotechnology.
1.3 Microbial metabolism: catabolism and the generation of energy . The breakdown of glucose to pyruvate, the tricarboxylic acid cycle, aerobic and anaerobic respiration, fermentations. Anabolism. The metabolism regulation: control of enzyme activity, control of mRNA synthesis. Photosynthesis: oxygenic and anoxygenic.
1.4 Microbial taxonomy. Taxonomic criteria, classification, nomenclature, identification of microorganism. Phylogenies and evolution. The microbial groups of interest for the course: Bacteria, Archaea, Eukarya.

Acquired knowledge on didactic unit 1
Structure, function and genetic of the prokaryotic cell; Microbial metabolism; Microbial groups of interest

2) Theoretical and practical unit on microbiological techniques (total hours 20)
2.1 The microbiological techniques used in laboratory for the study of microorganisms. Microscopy and specimen preparation: light microscope and electron microscopy. The laboratory equipments for the study of microorganism. Measurement of microbial growth, isolation of pure cultures. Preservation of the cultures: transfer on fresh media, freezing and freezing dry.
2.2 Control of the microorganisms by physical agents: heat, filtration, radiation. Chemical and antimicrobial agents.
2.3 Laboratory experience for isolation and count of the microorganism present in a food matrix. Use of selective media for the isolation of lactic acid bacteria, Streptococcus and Bifidobacterium.

Acquired knowledge on didactic unit 2
Techniques for isolation, cultivation and identification of microorganisms; Laboratory equipments for the study of microorganism.

3) Introduction to the study of microorganisms of agricultural interest (total hours 10)
3.1 Microorganisms as components of the environment, nutrient cycling processes, interactions within microorganisms, interaction microorganism-plant, applications of microorganisms on bioremediation and on water treatment.

Acquired knowledge on didactic unit 3
Main application of microorganisms in the agro-environmental field.


B. Biavati, C. Sorlini, Microbiologia generale e agraria, II Ed. Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, Milano, 2012.

M.T. Madigan, JM Martinko, KS Bender, DH Buckley, DA Stahl BROCK Biologia dei Microrganismi Microbiologia generale. ambientale, industriale.14a Edizione,2016 Casa Editrice Pearson.

Teaching methods

Theoretical lectures and practical activities are provided.

1) Theoretical lectures. The student will acquire knowledge on basic microbiology in addition to a general introduction to the application of microorganisms in the agro-environmental field.

2) Practical activity on microbiological techniques. The student will visit the laboratory for practice and discussion of the research projects linked to the topic.

Assessment methods

Learning verification of the course is through a final written test consisting of 33 multiple choice questions provided via the EOL (Esami OnLine) platform. Questions will be focused on the topics illustrated during class activities and practical activities. Each correct answer will give 1 point. With a minimum of 32 points, students will be given the score of 30 cum laude.

Students wishing to take the exam in English have to perform a dedicated request to the teacher at least one week before the exam.

Teaching tools

Classrooms are equipped with video and overhead projectors, PC and Wi-Fi connection. The teacher will use the slides available within the text book or other slides. The Document camera in the classroom will be used to shom laboratory equipment and microbial cultures.

The practical parts will be performed in laboratories dedicated to this activities.

Office hours

See the website of Diana Di Gioia