Course code LauZ3186

Credit points 3


Total Hours in Course120

Number of hours for lectures24

Number of hours for seminars and practical classes8

Number of hours for laboratory classes16

Independent study hours72

Date of course confirmation17.09.2019

Responsible UnitInstitute of Soil and Plant Science

Course developers

author prof.

Ina Alsiņa

Dr. biol.

author Augsnes un augu zinātņu institūts

Laila Dubova


Course abstract

Microbiology - a science that studies the morphology, biochemistry, physiology, growth, development, variability and heredity of microorganisms. In the course of microbiology students learn the most important physiological processes of microorganisms, the structure of the cell. Students learn the systematics and identification methods of bacteria, microscopic fungi. Structure and functions of viruses. The role of microorganisms in the geochemical cycle of nutrients, as well as their interaction with plants and animals. Will learn basic principles and conditions of practical application of microorganisms in agriculture. Effects of environmental factors and agricultural practice on soil biodiversity and activity.

Learning outcomes and their assessment

Knowledge about the diversity of microorganisms and their biology. Interaction of microorganisms with plants, animals and the environment. Impact of microbiological processes on agricultural production and application of microorganisms in agroenvironment.
Skills to carry out microbiological analyzes and to recognize main groups of microorganisms, to evaluate their activity.
Students are able to distinguish the most important groups of microorganisms - practical works.
Ability to evaluate the influence of environmental factors on the viability and activity of microorganisms - practical work.
Knows methods of analysis of microorganisms - laboratory works.
During the seminars students present the results of laboratory work and are able to explain them.
During the semester, students write tests to demonstrate competence in:
- differences in cell structure and physiological processes between main groups of micro-organisms;
- methods for the assessment of the diversity and activity of micro-organisms;
- the interaction between environmental factors and organisms affecting the distribution and diversity of micro-organisms in the agroenvironment;
- the role of microorganisms in elemental cycling and transformation, paying particular attention to carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus;
- the importance of microbiological processes in different areas of agricultural production;
- the use of microorganisms in agriculture.

Course Content(Calendar)

I. Theoretical lectures.
1. Structure and function of the microorganisms cell.
1.1 Introduction to a brief history of microbiology. 1h
1.2 The prokaryotic cell. Component the cell wall, the plasma membrane, capsules and slime layers. Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. The formation of the endospore. The bacterial motility. 1h
1.3. Microbial genetics: general principles, recombination, plasmids, conjugation, transformation and transduction. Use of microorganisms in the biotechnology. 1h
1.4. Microbial taxonomy. Taxonomic criteria, classification, nomenclature, identification of microorganism. Physiological and biochemical methods for studying microorganisms and their function. 1h
1.5. Characterization of the most important groups of bacteria. 1h
1.6., Characteristics, and ecological roles in soil of fungi and eukaryotic algae. Fungus-like protists. 1h
1.7. Classification and characterization of the most important groups of Fungi (Chytridiomycota, Glomeromycota, Zygomycota, Ascomycota, and Basidiomycota). Eukaryotic Algae. 2h
1.8. Viruses.1h
1.9 Microbial metabolism: catabolism and the generation of energy. The aerobic and anaerobic respiration, fermentations. Anabolism. The metabolism regulation-control of enzyme activity. Photosynthesis: oxygenic and anoxygenic. 2h
1.10. Secondary metabolism, and antibiotic production. 2h
1.11 Microbial nutrition and growth. Substrate utilization. Autochthony and zymogeny, oligotrophy, copiotrophy, and the R–K continuum. 2h
1.12. Carbon cycling and formation of soil organic matter. Composition and turnover of C inputs to soil. Plant cell wall carbohydrates, proteins and secondary compounds. Roots and Root exudates.2h
1.13. Soil organic matter. Formation of soil organic matter. 2h
1.14. Nitrogen transformations. Nitrogen Mineralization and Immobilization.
Nitrification. Denitrification. Environmental controls of nitrogen transformations. 2h
1.15. Biological N inputs. Biological nitrogen fixation. Free-living N2-fixing bacteria. Associative N2-Fixing Bacteria. Phototrophic Bacteria. Symbiotic N2-Fixing associations between legumes and rhizobia. 2h
1.16. Microorganisms in the soil biogeochemical cycling of inorganic nutrients and metals. The soil phosphorus and sulphur cycles. Micronutrient and trace metal cycling in soil. 2h
2) Main functioning and application of microorganisms in the agro-environment.
2.1. Interactions among plant and microorganisms. Environmental factors affecting interactions. 1h
2.2. Interactions among microorganisms and animals. Rumen microbiology. 1h
2.3. Crop rotations and green manures. Composting. Use of synthetic and natural compounds to modify soil organisms’ communities or functions. 1h
2.4. Management of native and introduced microorganisms. Biotechnology of BNF. Managing microbial populations as agents of biological control. 1h
2.5. Microbiology of animal feeds. 1h
2.6. Microorganisms in the production, preservation of agricultural products. 1h
2.7. Importance of the microorganisms in the environmental biotechnology. 1h
II. Laboratory works
1) The microbiological techniques used in laboratory for the study of microorganisms. The laboratory equipment’s for the study of microorganism. Measurement of microbial growth, isolation of pure cultures. Preservation of the cultures: transfer on fresh media.
2) Microscopy and specimen preparation of bacteria, fungi.
3) Control of the microorganisms by physical agents: heat, filtration. Chemical and antimicrobial agents. Use of selective media for the isolation of microorganisms.
4) Introduction to the study of microorganisms of agricultural interest:
- microorganisms as components of the environment, nutrient cycling processes
- interactions between microorganisms;
- microorganism-plant interaction;
- applications of microorganisms on bioremediation;
- microorganisms in the production, preservation of agricultural products.
Seminars 8h.
- Methods for cultivation the microorganism. Principles of nutrient selection;
- Structure of bacterial and fungal cells. Microscopy;
- Methods restricting the action of microorganisms. Methods of sterilization;
- Chemical agents that affect the action of microorganisms;
- Interaction of different groups of microorganisms;
- Interraction of microorganisms and plants;
- Role of microorganisms in bioremediation;
- Microorganisms in food and feed.

Requirements for awarding credit points

To pass the course, the student must successfully write midterm and the final tests. Attend all laboratory works and participate in the discussion on the results of laboratory works

Description of the organization and tasks of students’ independent work

During the course each student attend laboratory works
Prepare the reports of laboratory works and explain the obtained results. Independent work in preparation for tests

Criteria for Evaluating Learning Outcomes

The evaluation of final grade consists of midterm and final test results and evaluation of the results of the practical work.

Compulsory reading

Microbiology for Sustainable Agriculture, Soil Health, and Environmental Protection. Edited by D. K. Verma. Oakville, ON; Waretown, NJ: Apple Academic Press, 2019. 400 p.
Soil microbiology, ecology, and biochemistry. Editor, E. A. Paul. 3rd ed. Amsterdam [etc.]; Academic Press, 2007. , Elsevier Inc. 535 p.

Further reading

Environmental microbiology. Ed. R. M. Maier, I L. Pepper, C. P. Gerba. 2nd ed. Burlington ... [ect.]: Elsevier/Academic Press, 2009. 598 p.
Soil microbiology. R. L. Tate. New York: Wiley & Sons, 1995. 398 p.


Bachelor study programme “Sustainable Agriculture”, with specialization Sustainable plant production, 2nd semester, in full-time studies