790392 Microbial ecology

Lecture and seminar
Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Erian, Anna Maria , Fritz, Ines
Offered in
Wintersemester 2023/24
Languages of instruction


The lecture will be held in three main sections:
(1) The first section describes nutrient cycles, metabolic pathways in natural habitats for bacteria and unicellular eucaryotes, including mechanisms of adaptation and natural selection. Further the population structures of example ecosystems, such as soil, swamp, surface/pelagic water, groundwater, sediment, hot springs, animal digestion tracts, plant surfaces and rhizosphere are examined. Interactions and successions are discussed as well as dynamics between prey and predator are explained in detail.
(2) On a global scale microbial life is a major driving force for the biogeochemical cycles. It will be demonstrated that fungi, lichen and bacteria have a significant impact on bioweathering processes in nature but also for biodeterioration processes of materials. In the second part of the lecture we will introduce to you the most important organisms involved in geomicrobiological processes - like genesis, diagenetis and weathering of rocks and minerals - as well as microbial processes that lead to deterioration of materials (corrosion of metals, glass and concrete, biodeterioration of paintings and cultural heritage). The most important strategies to prevent biodeterioration of materials will be presented and discussed.
(3) In the third part of the lecture the most important methods to study microbial communities (like bacteria. fungi and archaea) will be presented and discussed. DNA and RNA based methods to quantify and to monitor biodeterioration processes will be presented.
The lecture will be mainly based on and driven by results from recent scientific projects and thus it will contain plenty of examples and pictures from up-to-date research.

Previous knowledge expected

basic microbiology (from bachelor studies)

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

The overall goal is to increase know-how on microbe-microbe, microbe-plant and microbe-material interactions. Knowledge about state of the art methods in analyzing microbial communities on and in organic and inorganic materials is the essential prerequisite.
Students will know about microbial populations and living conditions in all major habitats, as they are: surface soil including rhizosphere, deep soil, mineral surfaces, freshwater, oceans including deep sea and sediments, animal surfaces and digestion tracts. By investigating example interactions in detail, students will be able to come to logical conclusions by their own in other cases.
Students will be able to estimate, on a theoretical approach, how changes in the habitats will affect microbial populations. They are provided the basic information to decide which methods can be suitable for the analytical control of autochthone and influenced biocoenosis.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.