The aim of this course is to introduce different applications of microorganisms and to help students develop independent research skills. In the first part of the course, students will visit a geothermal area and subsequently work on a research project where they isolate, identify and study bacterial strains.
The second part will introduce different fields of microbial biotechnology and how they have been shaped by recent progress in microbiology, molecular biology and biochemistry. State of the art will be covered regarding subjects such as microbial diversity as a resource of enzymes and biocompounds; bioprospecting, thermophiles, marine microbes and microalgae, biorefineries (emphasis on seaweed and lignocellulose), enzymes (emphasis on carbohydrate active enzymes), metabolic engineering (genetic engineering, omics), energy-biotechnology, cultivation and fermentation technology. The course will exemplify Icelandic biotechnology where applicable. Cultivation/production technology and yeast will be presented specifically in practical sessions in the brewing of beer.
The third part will cover environmental sampling, microbial communities and biofilms, microbes in aquatic and terrestrial environments, indoor air quality and the impact of molds. Also, water- and food-borne pathogens, risk assessment and surveillance, water treatment, microbial remediation, methane production and global warming. Students will visit waste management and water treatment plants and review and present selected research articles.
Additional teaching one Saturday in end of September or beginning of October.
Upon completion of this course, the student should be able to:
- isolate, identify and study microorganisms under teacher supervision
- acquire literature on microbiology and evaluate own results in that regard
- describe how microorganisms and their products are applied in the industry
- outline microbial strain optimization through model predictions and metabolic engineering
- describe the importance and different roles of microorganisms in the environment
- explain risk assessment and how microorganism affect the quality of water and indoor air
- explain bioreactor design and industrial fermentation, for example in brewing