BB540: Microbial ecology and global biogeochemical cycles

Study Board of Science

Teaching language: Danish or English depending on the teacher, but English if international students are enrolled
EKA: N100015102, N100015112
Assessment: Second examiner: Internal, Second examiner: None
Grading: 7-point grading scale, Pass/Fail
Offered in: Odense
Offered in: Autumn
Level: Bachelor

STADS ID (UVA): N100015101
ECTS value: 10

Date of Approval: 25-04-2019

Duration: 1 semester

Version: Archive


04017701 (former UVA) is identical with this course description. 

Limited seats

The course has limited seats and in case of too many applications, priority is given to the timely registration by date of registration.

The course has limited entry. The following criterias are taken into consideration when seats are assigned.

  1. Students with the most ECTS from their BSc. in Biology
  2. Other studentswith the most ECTS (enrolled in a programme in the subject area of Natural Sciences

The academic enviroments at The faculty of Science manages the prioritisation and at waiting list is established and will then be made aware from the faculty. The waiting list will not be transferred to the following year.

Entry requirements


Academic preconditions

Students taking the course are expected to:

  • Have knowledge of fundamental principles in microbiology and ecology.
  • Be able to perform and analyse wet chemical and microbiological laboratory experiments.
  • Have experience in scientific reporting in written and oral form.
  • Be able to engage in scientific discussions

Participant limit


Course introduction

Microorganisms play pivotal roles in the biogeochemistry of the earth, performing a range of unique processes that are essential for the maintenance of a habitable planet. Microbes have been the dominating life form through most of earth’s history and have contributed decisively to the chemical evolution of the biosphere. Their functional diversity also represents an important resource for biotechnological applications in the widest sense. 
The aim of this course is to provide the student with a theoretically and experimentally founded understanding of microbial life and the structure and function of microbial communities, which will enable the student to analyse the role of microbes in ecological and biotechnological contexts.

The course builds on the knowledge acquired in the courses in microbiology and ecology (BB509, BB510), and gives an academic basis for further studies in aquatic ecology and related subjects.

In relation to the competence profile of the degree it is the explicit focus of the course to:

  • provide competence to enter into academic collaborations and structure personal learning
  • provide skills in conducting experimental investigations, acquire knowledge in an independent and efficient manner, critically evaluate biological theories and models, and express, evaluate and solve biological problems
  • provide knowledge and understanding of scientific theories, experimental methods, and current research topics in biology, and how these are employed in biological discussions.

Expected learning outcome

The learning objectives of the course are that the student demonstrates the ability to:
  • acquire knowledge from text books and primary litterature in the field
  • describe and explain fundamental principles in microbial ecology and biogeochemistry
  • perform experiments to analyse the structure and function of microbial communities
  • interpret experimental results in a microbial ecological and biogeochemical context, evaluate associated uncertainties, and derive justified conclusions
  • present the results and interpretations in a clear and concise manner, orally as well as in writing.


The following main topics are contained in the course:
  • Being small – physical and biochemical consequences of microbial cell sizes
  • Microbial taxis and quorum sensing 
  • Microbial energetics
  • Microbial food webs - trophic interactions in microbial communities
  • The roles of microbes in element cycling
  • Biotechnological aspects of microbial metabolisms


Kompendium på Blackboard
See Blackboard for syllabus lists and additional literature references.

Examination regulations

Exam element a)




Type Prerequisite name Prerequisite course
Examination part Prerequisites for participating in the exam a) N100015101, BB540: Microbial ecology and global biogeochemical cycles


Oral examination




Second examiner: Internal


7-point grading scale


Student Identification Card


Normally, the same as teaching language

Examination aids

Allowed, a closer description of the exam rules will be posted under 'Course Information' on Blackboard.

ECTS value


Additional information

The examination form for re-examination may be different from the exam form at the regular exam.

Prerequisites for participating in the exam a)




Participation in theoretical and laboratory exercises




Second examiner: None




Full name and SDU username


Normally, the same as teaching language

Examination aids

To be announced during the course

ECTS value


Additional information

Participation in theoretical and laboratory exercises with handing in of written reports and oral presentations.
The prerequisite examination is a prerequisite for participation in exam element a).

Indicative number of lessons

74 hours per semester

Teaching Method

Topics are presented in 2-hour sessions including interactive lecturing, theoretical exercises, and discussions. In some of these sessions, invited speakers will present specific research topics of current interest. In the laboratory exercises, a range of microbiological and biogeochemical techniques will be applied to the study of microbial communities. An excursion will explore microbial communities on location.

Teacher responsible

Name E-mail Department
Bo Thamdrup Nordcee

Additional teachers

Name E-mail Department City
Alexander Treusch Nordcee
Amelia-Elena Rotaru Nordcee
Beate Kraft Nordcee
Carolin Löscher Nordcee
Donald Eugene Canfield Nordcee
Peter Stief Nordcee
Ronnie N. Glud Nordcee


Administrative Unit

Biologisk Institut

Team at Educational Law & Registration


Offered in


Recommended course of study

Profile Education Semester Offer period