Kent Laboratory University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Restoration Microbiology

NRES 512: Restoration Microbiology

Fall 2011

Course Description:

Historically, society has tended to view microorganisms as "germs". Although microbial pathogens have important consequences for human health, they are rare compared to the diversity of beneficial microorganisms. It is well established that microbes control essential processes such as carbon sequestration, trace gas flux, and nutrient cycling. In addition, we rely on microorganisms for the maintenance and stability of ecosystem services. When managed properly, microbial populations can be harnessed for contaminant degradation, biofuel production, water purification, and increased food yield. When we fail to appreciate the ecological principles governing microbial dynamics, however, natural and managed ecosystems become susceptible to disease outbreaks, harmful algal blooms, and degraded ecosystem function. This discussion group will focus on topics where microbial ecology contributes to management, restoration and sustainability of the biosphere. We will discuss current microbial ecology and environmental microbiology literature in the framework of "environmental stewardship".

We will review the role of microbial communities in ecosystem services, followed by examples from both natural and managed ecosystems highlighting the myriad ways in which microbial communities influence environmental quality and sustainability. We will review literature to foster discussion on how ecological theory could be applied to harness microbial communities and their processes in order to conserve and restore ecosystem services.

This course will include discussion of restoration concepts and principles in the context of microbial communities and their processes.

The format for this course will primarily be student-led discussion.

Angela Kent

Suggested text:

Class location and time:
To be arranged

CRN: 30590
1 credit