UWA Handbook 2017

Unit details

ENVT5001 Biotechnology in the Natural Environment

Credit 6 points
  Offering
(see Timetable)
AvailabilityLocationMode
Non-standard teaching periodUWA (Perth)Face to face
Content Soil microbial biodiversity is a vast frontier and a potential goldmine for the biotechnology industry as it offers countless new genes and biochemical pathways to probe for enzymes, antibiotics and other useful molecules. As an example, the invisible world of microbes has given us more than 3222 antibiotics, many derived from soils. This unit covers the biology of soil micro-organisms with an emphasis on their ecology, physiology, genetics and biotechnological uses in the soil environment. Topics include soil as an environment for micro-organisms including influence of soil structure on soil micro-organisms, microbial classification and soil microbial biodiversity, microbial survival and activity in soil including involvement in nutrient cycling, microbial forensics, metabolism of soil pollutants and metal-microbe interactions. The unit investigates the use of molecular-based methods to study micro-organisms in soil. Regulations and guidelines on the biotechnological applications of micro-organisms in the soil environment are also discussed.
Outcomes Students are able to (1) develop an understanding of soil as an environment for micro-organisms and soil microbial diversity; (2) discuss current perspectives on nutrient cycling and metabolism by soil micro-organisms; (3) understand of soil biotechnology—genetically engineered micro-organisms and their uses and manipulation of genes in soil bacteria; (4) gain theoretical knowledge of methods for molecular-based detection of soil micro-organisms extraction, purification and amplification by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of soil microbial DNA; (5) understand microbial interactions in extreme environments, microbial metabolism and survival in soil and mineral-microbe interactions in the soil environment; (6) discuss guidelines on the biotechnological applications of micro-organisms in the soil environment; and (7) present the case study in a confident and logical manner.
Assessment Typically this unit is assessed in the following ways: (1) a case study assignment; and (2) presentation of case study. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s) Winthrop Professor Andrew Whiteley
Unit rules
Prerequisites: enrolment in Master of Biotechnology (71580) or Master of Environmental Science (72530) or Master of Agricultural Science (72510) or Bachelor of Science (Honours) (BH004)
Contact hours lectures/tutorials: 2 hours per fortnight; field trips/case study work: 2 hours per fortnight
Unit Outlinehttp://www.unitoutlines.science.uwa.edu.au/Units/ENVT5001/TS-TP-1/2017

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