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ENV 506 Environmental Microbiology

Prerequisites: ENV 501 and 502, or permission of the instructor. (First semester—even years/3 credits) 

Environmental microbiology studies the applied effects of microorganisms on the environment and on human activity, health and welfare. It asks how can we use our understanding of microbes in the environment to benefit society. This course begins with an overview of the basic biology, ecology and history of the other (non-plant and non-animal) kingdomes of life: the archaea, bacteria, protoctista and algae and fungi. Special attention is given to the observable evidence and environmental activities of microbial cells in terrestrial, aquatic and extreme environments. The course emphasizes ecological interactions among microbes, between microbes and plants and between microbes and animals. Special topics include organic matter decomposition, nutrient cycling, degradation of man-made chemicals, wastewater treatment, metal recovery, lichens, mycorrhizal associations, animal disease, plant pathogens and microorganisms and foods. Although not its primary focus, the course will discuss human health in the context of microbial ecology.