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Marine Microbiology and Virology



Course format On-site
Date 2021-02-08 - 2021-04-18
Entry level Bachelor

Marine microbes (virus, bacteria, archaea and protists) are key drivers of the biosphere in terms of facilitating primary production and biogeochemical recycling of nutrients. They play a central role in both local and global regulation of marine ecosystems at several trophic levels. Thus, understanding the response of marine microbes to anthropogenic activity and environmental change is of paramount importance for understanding and forecasting global change scenarios. Furthermore, marine microbes represent a huge and largely un-explored biodiversity resource for new metabolic pathways, bioactive compounds and bioproduction. The course will cover all these aspects of the ecology and applications of marine microbes by integrating the newest knowledge about microbial diversity, metabolism and interactions at levels ranging from the single cell level, over microbial consortia and communities to entire ecosystems and global scales.

Central themes of the course encompass:

  1. Microbial biodiversity
  2. Microbial growth, Metabolic Diversity and Ecophysiology
  3. Microbes in Ocean Processes and Element Cycling
  4. Microbial Interactions (microbe-microbe, microbe-plant, and microbe-animal) in the marine environment.
  5. Methods in Marine Microbiology and Virology

The course is strongly linked to the research activities of the teachers that involves research in a wide range of marine habitats ranging from Artic to tropical ecosystems, and from shallow to deep-sea habitats, and methodology ranging from classical microbiological quantification, cultivation and description, over advanced ecophysiological methods (e.g. microsensors, flowcytometry, and bioimaging) to modern molecular techniques for studying microbial biodiversity, community composition and activity in situ.


An introductory course in marine biology or microbiology is an advantage.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Learning outcomes


The Marine Microbiology and Virology (MMV) course gives the participants a broad overview of the role of virus, prokaryotes (bacteria, archaea) and microbial eukaryotes (protists) in the marine environment, including their importance in element cycling, symbioses, disease and aquaculture.

Key topics include: Microbial diversity and physiology; Ecological interactions amongst microbes (virus-microbe, microbe-microbe), between microbes and plant/animal hosts (symbiosis and pathogenesis), and between microbes and their environment (microenvironmental controls; biogeochemical processes and element cycles); Microbes as a resource, and the role of microbes in relation to ecosystem management, disease and aquaculture.


  • Demonstrate insight into quantitative assessments of microbial biodiversity, microbial biomass, growth and metabolic activity of microbes, and relevant environmental parameters in marine waters, sediments and biofilms.
  • Demonstrate an insight to central methods in marine microbiology and virology.
  • Devise experimental strategies for analyzing microbial populations, their activity and interactions in marine ecosystems.
  • Critically read, analyze, discuss and present topics from the original scientific literature (articles and reviews) in marine microbiology and virology.


Successful course participants are able to:

  • Discuss the diversity of marine microbes
  • Account for the microenvironment and physico-chemical boundary conditions that constrain microbial activity and behavior in the marine environment.
  • Account for all major types of microbial metabolism in the marine environment.
  • Account for the role of marine microorganisms in biogeochemical element cycling and ecosystem functioning.
  • Account for important interactions between virus, bacteria, archaea and protists in the marine environment.
  • Account for the role of marine microbes in symbioses, disease and other beneficial/harmful effects of microbes in natural ecosystems, aquaculture and fisheries.
  • Account for current gaps in the understanding of marine microbes.


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