Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell'Ambiente - Guida degli insegnamenti (Syllabus)


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Seat Scienze
A.A. 2016/2017
Credits 8
Hours 64
Period 2^ semestre
Language ENG
U-gov code ST01 3S037


Basic knowledge of Biochemistry and Cytology

Development of the course

The course encompasses lectures (7 credits, 56 hours), including classroom exercises, and lab practice in small working groups (1 credit, 8 hours). Course attendance is not mandatory, although lab practice is strongly recommended. Students who have not followed labs must anyway know their content and be able to describe the experimental assays (they can find detailed lecture notes on the Department web site and ask the professor for clarification). 

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students will be required to know the structure and metabolic features of the different groups of microorganisms, both cellular and acellular; the interactions of microorganisms among themselves, with other living organisms and with the environment; microbial pathogenicity and host defense mechanisms. They will also be required to have basic knowledge of microorganism cultivation and of methods for their count and growth control by physical and chemical agents. Students will also be aware of the different fields of application of Microbiology.

Ability to apply the knowledge:
Students will have the ability of recognizing the different types of microorganisms on the bases of their peculiar features (e.g. nutrient requirement, staining properties, motility), growing bacteria and obtaining pure cultures, determining bacterial loads (CFU and OD determination) and antibiotic susceptibility (disk diffusion) by basic technical approaches.

Soft skills:
Lab practice will contribute to carry out basic lab techniques and to develop students’ independence in terms of work management (use of standards and controls), the ability to work as a part of a team and to a critical interpretation of the results.


What you’ll learn (theoretical tarining,7 credits, 56 hours).Diversity and history of microorganisms. The three-domain view of life. Prokaryotes, eukaryotes, viruses.
The prokaryotes. Bacteria and Archaea.
Structure and function of prokaryotic cells. The cell surface of bacteria: Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial cell wall, Peptidoglycan structure and biosynthesis. Surface polysaccarides, flagella, and fimbriae. The cell surface of Archaea.
The cytoplasmic membrane and the cytoplasm. The Endospore: structure, sporulation and germination.
Mechanics of flagella-mediated motility, chemotaxis; other types of motility. Bacterial differentiation.
Bacterial genetics: bacterial DNA replication; mobile genetic elements (plasmids, insertion sequences, transposons). Horizontal gene transfer among bacteria: transformation, transduction and conjugation.
The eukaryotic microbes. General features, reproduction and classification of protozoa and fungi. Biological cycles of the main parasites that are pathogenic to humans
The viruses. General features. Viruses of mammalian cells: structure and classification; steps of viral replication. Effects on host cells. Viral persistence, latency and cellular transformation.
Bacteriophages. Virulent and lysogenic bacteriophages: phage T4 and phage lambda replication; lysogenic conversion.
Microbial nutrition and growth. Metabolic types: aerobic, anaerobic, fermentation, photosynthesis; breakdown of polymers and transport across the cytoplasmic membrane. Interactions of prokaryotes with their environment.
Study and cultivation of Microorganisms. Methods to Microscopy and staining. Cultivation of microorganisms: selection of medium and atmosphere; pure cultures; measurement of growth, the growth curve. Methods of virus cultivation.
Control of microbial growth. Disinfection and sterilization. Antibiotics: general features, mechanisms of action and resistance. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing: antibiogram.
Microbial ecology and microorganism-host interactions. Microbial communities. Symbiotic interactions: commensalism, mutualism, parasitism. Pathogenicity and virulence: adhesiveness, invasiveness and toxin production. Endotoxins and exotoxins. Nonspecific and specific human body defenses. Immune response, antigens and antibodies, cells involved in the immune response, vaccines.
Lab practice (1 credit, 8 hours)
- Pure cultures;
- Use of different culture media, both rich and selective/differential;
- Evaluation of bacterial load by CFU determination and spectrophotometer readings;
- Phage titration and host range determination;
- Disk diffusion antibiotic susceptibility test.

Development of the examination

Methods for assessing learning outcomes:
The exam will take the form of an interview and each student will be asked three questions. Erasmus students can have a written multiple-choice test in either English or Italian including 30 questions. 

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes: 
Each student will be required to demonstrate an understanding of the asked topic and to be able to organize a logical and understandable answer, he should also be able to make connections with different general microbiology topics and with related, and entry required, disciplines. The student will be required to demonstrate his knowledge of the theoretical bases of the sperimental procedures he is asked to describe.
Students who will face the written test will have to mark the correct answer.

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes: 
A 30-point scale will be used to measure your performance, with 18 being the minimum score to pass the exam and 30 being the highest. In the event of an outstanding performance, the professor can decide to reward the students with a 30 cum laude.

Criteria for conferring final mark:
The final mark will be awarded based on the evaluation of the answers to the three questions. Honors will be awarded when the mark is 30 and the student has demonstrated a particularly good command of the matter.

Recommended reading

D.R. Wessner, C. Dupont, T.C. Charles. Microbiologia. Casa Editrice Ambrosiana 2015.
Gianni Dehò e Enrica Galli. Biologia dei microrganismi. Casa Editrice Ambrosiana 2014.
Madigan, Martinko, Stahl, Clark. Brock-Biologia dei microrganismi. Volume 1-Microbiologia generale, Casa Editrice Pearson 2012.
Wiley M., Sherwood M., Woolverton. J. Prescott, Microbiologia – volume 1- Microbiologia generale, casa Editrice McGraw – Hill 2009.
Schaechter, Ingraham, Neidhardt “Microbiologia”. Casa Editrice Zanichelli, 2007.
Lecture and lab practice exercises notes.



  • Scienze biologiche

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