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ENV 506 Environmental Microbiology

Prerequisites: ENV 501 and 502, or permission of the instructor. (First semester—even years/3 credits) This course is available as an elective for the GIS-ENV Certificate. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the instructor that this course will count toward the GIS-ENV Certificate by the drop/add deadline each semester, so that GIS-focused assessments can be completed. Once a student declares the GIS option, the course cannot revert to the non-GIS version.

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) kingdoms of life: the archaea, bacteria, protista 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.