Fall 2022 - BISC 475 D100

Special Topics in Biology (3)

Environmental Microbiology

Class Number: 1760

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 8:30 AM – 10:20 AM
    WMC 3220, Burnaby

    Th 8:30 AM – 9:20 AM
    WMC 3220, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 11, 2022
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    AQ 5039, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    To be announced.



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


Prerequisities:   BISC 303 or permission of the instructor. A basic knowledge of microbiology is required.

Course title:   BISC 475 Special topics in Biology - Environmental Microbiology
                         BISC 883 Special topics in Environmental Toxicology – Environmental Microbiology

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: 25%
  • Participation: 5%



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. (available in reserves at the library), and Environmental Microbiology: From Genomes to Biochemistry, E. Madsen 2nd Ed (available online from the library).


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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