Microbial Ecology and Biogeochemistry

Griffith University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Microbial Ecology and Biogeochemistry

  • Host University

    Griffith University

  • Location

    Gold Coast, Australia

  • Area of Study

    Ecology, Environmental Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Pre-requisites: 1041SCG Biological Systems or 1601ENV Biological Systems or 1005MSC Cell Biology

    Assumed Background:
    Basic knowledge of cellular respiration and photosynthesis as taught in 1601ENV Biological Systems, 1005MSC Cell Biology or an equivalent first year biology course.

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Course Description
    The course consists of a coordinated set of lectures, tutorials and laboratory studies designed to give an overview of the most important aspects of environmental microbiology. The course provides a brief overview of the principals which form the basis of bacterial taxonomy and the enormous metabolic diversity of bacteria. The roles of bacteria in the major biogeochemical cycles of nutrients and minerals and differences in biogeochemical cycling in marine, freshwater and soil habitats will be investigated in depth. The final part of the course will focus on some applied aspects of microbiology such as wastewater treatment and the bioremediation of polluted soils
    Course Introduction
    Microbes are the most metabolically diverse group of organisms in the biosphere, are major or the dominant component of all ecosystems and in many ecosystems e.g. the lithosphere, frozen tundra or ice sheets, volcanic springs etc. they are the only organisms present. Microorganisms exhibit types of metabolism such chemoautotrophy, photoheterotrophy, anoxygenic photosynthesis and anaerobic respirations, which have no eukaryotic equivalents. It is the chenical transformations associated with these metabolisms which drive the Earth's element cycles and without which life on this planet could not exist.
    Microbes also form a multitude of specific symbioses with plant and animal species which are involved in the digestion of food, the provision of nutrients or specific compounds (e.g. vitamins or essential amino acids), light production or the provision of chemical defences to the host organism.
    Moreover, many environmental problems such as acid sulfate soils, acid mine drainage, biocorrosion etc are directly caused by the activity of specific microbial groups. Conversely, due to their enormous metabolic diversity microbes have been exploited for the treatment of wastewaters, bioremediation of contaminated soils, treatment of oil spills, microbial mineral mining etc and are a source of novel compounds and enzymes for biotech industries.

    Assessment Task

    Weighting/Marked out of

    Assignment - Written Assignment
    Report on laboratory classes 1 to 3


    Assignment - Laboratory/Laboratory Report
    Report on laboratory 4


    Assignment - Problem Solving Assignment
    Report on Laboratory 5


    Exam - selected and constructed responses
    Final examination


Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.