Kent Laboratory University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Environmental Microbiology

NRES 475: Environmental Microbiology

Spring 2012

Course Description:

Microbial communities control nutrient cycles and biogeochemical transformations in natural, managed and engineered ecosystems. Microorganisms recycle organic matter, transform contaminants, and maintain ecosystem health. Understanding the ecology of natural microbial communities will deepen our understanding of how ecosystems function. Since microbial communities are critical for ecosystem function, microbial ecology can also assist the development of models to predict how ecosystems will respond to future environmental conditions.

Environmental Microbiology introduces students to the diversity of microbial populations and their important roles in environmental processes in air, water, soils, and sediments. Microbial community ecology and interactions with plants and animals will also be discussed. Students will learn how microbial activities sustain natural ecosystems and contribute to environmental quality, and also how these functions are harnessed to support managed and artificial systems. Techniques for characterizing microorganisms and investigating microbial processes will also be discussed.

Student preparation: Prior experience in environmental science, microbiology, and biochemistry is helpful, however, introductory lectures review basic principles of microbiology and biochemistry, providing a minimum background for the remainder of the course.

Course topics include:

  • microbial physiology and metabolism
  • microbial diversity
  • nutrient cycles
  • food webs, trophic interactions
  • microbial ecology
  • microbes and global change
  • sustainability
  • biofuels
  • applications of environmental microbiology

The format for this course will be an interactive lecture.

Angela Kent

Required text:
D. Sylvia et al., Principles and Applications of Soil Microbiology, 2005, 2nd edition.

Class location and time:
N-107 Turner Hall
9-10AM MWF

CRN: 35179
3 credits