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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Russell P Herwig
FISH 490
Seattle Campus

Aquatic Microbiology

Basic principles of aquatic microbiology and aquatic microbial ecology: role and identity of aquatic microorganisms; introduction to modern methodologies for research. Laboratory work with local freshwater and marine samples for those enrolled in 5-credit section. Recommended: 15 credits of biological science, 10 credits of chemistry. Offered: jointly with MICROM 490.

Class description

Millions of bacteria are found in a milliliter of Puget Sound seawater. Humans live in a world where the ecology and geochemical cycles are largely controlled by microorganisms. How do we understand the function, identity, and ecology of organisms that cannot be seen with the naked human eye?

FISH/MICROM 490 is offered as a 3-credit and 5-credit class. The 3-credit class includes lectures by Dr. Herwig and guest speakers. The 5-credit class includes lectures and a Discussion Section that meets on Friday. In the Discussion Section, students wlll critically review and discuss aquatic microbiology literature, see laboratory demonstrations of routine aquatic microbiology protocols, and learn about technical writing.

Student learning goals

(1) Understand the role, identity, and properties of microorganisms in aquatic ecosystems, including microorganisms associated with fish, shellfish, and marine mammals.

(2) Know the role of microorganisms in geochemical cycles (C, N, S cycles).

(3) Learn how microorganisms degrade and transform environmental pollutants such as crude oil and heavy metals such as mercury.

(4) Understand the role of microorganisms in aquatic food webs.

(5) Appreciate how water quality microbiology is explored and learn how naturally occurring aquatic microorganisms can become pathogenic for humans and aquatic animals.

(6) Learn laboratory methods for: a) detecting and enumerating microorganisms, b) determining microbial activity and functions in aquatic environments, c) pollution microbiology, d) modern molecular methods including microbial genomics and metagenomics.

General method of instruction

Dr. Herwig presents an overview and background about aquatic microbiology in a series of lectures. Lecture notes and additional information are provided to students at the FISH/MICROM 490 web site. The 2012 class will have reading assignments from a newly published text.

Recommended preparation

The following courses (or their equivalents) are recommended: BIOL 180, BIOL 200, BIOL 220; CHEM 120 or CHEM 142; CHEM 220, CHEM 223 or CHEM 237. A course in microbiology is NOT required, although it may be helpful. Students from all biological or environmental science departments are encouraged to enroll.

Class assignments and grading

Students are expected to attend lectures. Class PowerPoint notes are provided to students before the lecture. Reserve material is placed on-line. Students enrolled in the 5-credit course will separately meet for a 2 hour Discussion/Laboratory session. The 5-credit students will work in small groups and prepare a PowerPoint oral presentation and receive 4 short writing assignments.

The final grade for FISH/MICROM 490 is determined by evaluating student performances in 2 mid-term exams and a final exam based upon the lecture material and reading assignments. During the class lectures, students will respond to questions using Turning Point "clickers". 5-credit students will receive a grades for their PowerPoint oral presentation and writing assignments.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Russell P Herwig
Date: 03/01/2012