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BTH3732 - Environmental microbiology

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Science

Leader: Dr Alan Howgrave-Graham


Gippsland Second semester 2007 (Day)
Malaysia Second semester 2007 (Day)


This unit begins by examining the fundamental principles of microbial ecology and the basic methods used in this area. It then considers the role of microorganisms in biogeochemical nutrient cycles. Some important natural habitats for microorganisms such as air, fresh water and salt water are considered with the main discussion centred on soil. The roles of particular soil microorganisms within their microenvironments are explained with special attention being given to microorganisms involved in transformations of carbon and nitrogen. The role of microorganisms in composting, the management of pollution and as agents of bioremediation is discussed.


On completion of this unit students will be able to: demonstrate the use of basic methods in this area, notably monitoring, enumeration and sampling; discuss basic principles in microbial ecology, recognizing the role of microorganisms as a mixed flora, and illustrate examples of microbial interactions; diagram the role of microorganisms in biogeochemical nutrient cycles; discuss the role of different microorganisms in air, water environments, and soils, predicting what results are likely to happen to populations and their effects when environmental parameters are changed; describe how microorganisms can cause pollution; apply the use of microorganisms as indicators of pollution; discuss the role of microorganisms in sewage treatment; discuss the role of microorganisms in composting; describe how microorganisms can be exploited in bioremediation.


Final written examination (3 hours): 60%
Laboratory reports: 30% +Assignment (2000 words) 10%. The laboratory reports comprise one major lab report worth 10%, and 5 smaller reports worth a total of 20%.

Contact hours

Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory per week

Off Campus Attendance Requirements

OCL students will attend a 5-day residential program (offered in even numbered years)


BTH2722 or BTH2777