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Facoltā di Scienze Agrarie e Alimentari Universitā degli Studi di Milano
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Agricultural Microbiology
Code: G271K-
Teacher:  Raffaella Zanchi
CFU subdivision: Lectures: 5
Practices in laboratory:  1
Basic aims:  The course aims to provide fundamental knowledge about cytology and physiology of microorganisms, with emphasis to their role in nature and their use in agricultural biotechnology, in relation to soil fertility, organic matter degradation, and microbial interactions with plants and other biotic and abiotic components of soil ecosystem. Laboratory activity will allow the students to practice the basic techniques to grow and characterize soil and rhizosphere microorganisms.
Acquired skills:  Basic knowledge about general and ecological microbiology, in order to understand the role of microbial physiological groups associated with agricultural ecosystem. Knowledge of basic microbiological techniques.
Course contents:  Morphology and cytology of microorganisms. Principles of microbial growth and nutrition. Microbial metabolism. Genetic of microorganisms. Principles of microbial taxonomy. Microbial ecology. Microbial and plant-microorganism interactions. Role of microorganisms in biochemical cycles. Compost, water depuration, soil remediation.
Program:  Morfology and cytology of microorganisms. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms. Prokaryotic cell structure and function: size, shape, arrangement; cell membranes, cytoplasmic matrix, cell wall, capsules, slime layers, S-layers , pili (fimbriae), flagella, motility, chemotaxis, endospores.
Principles of microbial nutrition. Nutrient requirements and nutritional categories of microorganisms. Microbial growth and factors influencing growth.
Genetic of microorganisms. Bacterial chromosome and plasmids. Evolution in bacteria: mutations and bacterial horizontal gene transfer (transformation, conjugation, transduction).
Introduction to virology. General properties of viruses. Bacteriophages.
Principles of microbial metabolism. Fermentations: energetic and redox considerations. Fermentative diversity. Aerobic and anaerobic respiration in prokaryotes. Chemolithotrophy: energy from the oxidation of inorganic electron donors. Hydrogen oxidation, oxidation of reduced sulfur compounds, nitrification. Anoxygenic and oxygenic photosynthesis.
Microbial taxonomy. Species and strain concepts.
Basic microbial ecology concepts. Role of microorganisms in natural habitat. The carbon cycle. The nitrogen cycle. Nitrate reduction and denitrification. Nitrogen fixation. The cycles of sulfur. Microbial interactions (neutralism, competition, antagonism, predation, parasitism, commensalisms, synergism, and mutualism). Plant-microbe interactions: rhizosphere, mycorrhizas, actinorrhizas, and rhizobes. Introduction to biological pest control. Biological sewage treatment and organic matter recycling.
Bacteriology laboratories practices. Basic cultivation and microscopic techniques.
Prerequisites:  Organic chemistry and biochemistry
Preparatory instructions:  Organic chemistry and biochemistry
Learning materials:  -B. Biavati, C. Sorlini, 2012: Microbiologia generale e Agraria. Vol. 1-2, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, Milano.
- Biologia dei Microrganismi (vol. 1 e 2). Madigan M.T. - Martinko J.M. - Stahl D.A. - Clark D.P. 2012. Casa Editrice Pearson"
- On http://ariel.unimi.it/User/Default.aspx the course of General Microbiology, with a photo-gallery, and material for the laboratory practices, with some videos, are available. Moreover you can find the slides showed during the lessons.
Other info:  The examination is based on an oral discussion covering all the topics treated during the course, including the matters porposed during the laboratory activities.
Program of Agricultural Microbiology (pdf version)
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