Fall 2021 - BISC 475 D100

Special Topics in Biology (3)

Environmental Microbiology

Class Number: 3660

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 8:30 AM – 10:20 AM
    RCB 8100, Burnaby

    Fr 8:30 AM – 9:20 AM
    RCB 8100, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    To be announced.



Selected topics not currently offered in the Department of Biological Sciences.


This course is an overview of environmental and applied microbiology. It will consist of a combination of lectures, discussion of primary literature and completion of a project on a relevant topic of student’s choosing.  Lecture topics will include microbial growth and kinetics, thermodynamics and microbial metabolism, biogeochemical cycling, microbial ecology, and applied microbiology.

The tutorial will familiarize students with methods for analysing microbial communities, and the associated data analysis including qPCR, flow cytometry and 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing.

Learning objectives

Have an in-depth understanding of growth, metabolism and energy conservation in microorganisms

Understand basic ecological and evolutionary processes that impact microbes

Discuss and describe the contribution of microorganisms to global biogeochemical cycling and provisioning of ecosystem services

Be familiar with biotechnological applications of microbial communities in natural and engineered environments

Have in-depth knowledge of the roles of microorganisms in the natural process or biotechnological application of your choosing

Critically read papers related to environmental and industrial microbiology

Effectively communicate scientific information in oral and written formats

Analyse microbial community datasets using appropriate methods



  • Midterm exam: 30%
  • Final exam: 15%
  • Tutorial assignments: 25%
  • Project: 30%


Lecture: In person, synchronous

Tutorial: In person, synchronous

Midterm: In person, synchronous, Date: TBA

Final exam: In person, synchronous



BISC 303 with a grade of at least C- or permission of the instructor. A basic knowledge of microbiology is required.

Effective immediately, the Department of Biological Sciences is adopting a mandatory mask policy for all areas under Biology’s control and in spaces elsewhere where Biology faculty teach, applying to everyone regardless of vaccination status.



There is no official course textbook. Readings will be assigned from a variety of sources including textbooks and primary literature. Recommended readings/ course resources include Brock Biology of Microorganisms 15th Ed., The physiology and biochemistry of microorganisms, D. White 4th Ed., and Environmental Microbiology: From Genomes to Biochemistry, E. Madsen 2nd Ed.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.