Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 3 x 1 hour lectures per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2000 word essay   20%
Semester Assessment Microbial growth assignment  20%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   60%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   exam plus resubmission of failed or missing coursework  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module students will:

  • Be familiar with the growth of microorganisms in artificial culture, appreciate how their growth is inhibited and how their physiology will change depending on the environment they inhabit
  • be aware of the immense metabolic versatility of bacteria and fungi, which allows them to be capable of growth almost anywhere
  • be aware of the current research strategies in the industrial sector that exploit microbial bioprocesses to over-produce many medically and economically important compounds
  • appreciate that individual bacterial cells can communicate and regulate their physiology using signalling molecules
  • appreciate the methods used for studying heterogenous bacterial populations.


In the post-genomic era microbial physiology and biochemistry are of paramount importance and this module will provide theoretical training in the processes involved in microbial growth and its measurement and control. The content will emphasise the immense diversity of environments that microbes inhabit and how this unlimited source of biological activity can be exploited for biotechnological purposes including specific examples of industrial bioprocesses. Although the emphasis is on the positive benefits of microorganisms, the potential for misuse of microbial biotechnology will also be discussed.


The lectures cover the following topics:
  • Introduction to the ubiquity of microbes.
  • Microbes and enzymes from extreme environments
  • Nutrition of microorganisms.
  • Growth of microorganisms in artificial culture.
  • Inhibition of growth and death.
  • Microbes in the environment.
  • Diversity of microbial fermentations.
  • Bacteria as individuals rather than a population.
  • Screening for new metabolites and strain development.
  • Industrial methods of fermentation and downstream product recovery.
  • Industrial processes using microorganisms, with worked examples.
  • The role of biotechnology in bioterrorism.
  • Carotenoids and light-protection in Gram -ve bacteria
  • Population behaviour in myxobacteria

Reading List

Recommended Text
Black, Jacquelyn G. (2008) Microbiology, principles and explorations, student study guide /Jacquelyn G. Black. you will need one from the following three books 7th Wiley Primo search Madigan, M.T. (2008) Brock Biology of Microorganisms 12th Prentice Hall Primo search Stanley, J.T. et al (2007) Microbial Life 2nd Sinauer Primo search
Multiple Copies In Hugh Owen
Moat, A.G. & Foster, J.W. (1995) Microbial Physiology 3rd New York: Wiley-Liss. Primo search
Recommended Background
Bu'Lock, J. & Kristiansen, B. (1987) Basic Biotechnology New York: Academic Press. Primo search Crueger, W. & Crueger, A. (1989) Biotechnology: A textbook of industrial microbiology Massachusetts: Sinauer. Primo search Dawes, A.E. (1986) Microbial energetics Blackie. Primo search Neidhardt, F.C. Ingraham, J.L. & Schaechter, M. (1990) Physiology of the bacterial cell : a molecular approach Massachusetts: Sinauer. Primo search Nicholls, D.G & Fergusson, S.J. (1992) Bioenergetics 2 Academic press. Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6