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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Russell P Herwig
MICROM 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 FISH 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?

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

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

(3) How microorganisms degrade and transform environmental pollutants such as oil and mercury.

(3) The role of microorganisms in aquatic food webs.

(4) Water quality microorganisms.

(5) Laboratory methods for: a) detecting and enumerating microorganisms, b) determining microbial activity and functions in aquatic environments, c) pollution microbiology, d) modern molecular methods and environmental genomics.

MICROM 490 is offered as a 5-credit class that includes both lecture and laboratory sessions or as a 3-credit class that only includes the lecture sessions.

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 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.

Recommended preparation

Students are recommended to complete 15 credits in biological science and 10 credits in chemistry. The following courses (or their equivalents) are recommended: BIOL 180, BIOL 200, BIOL 220; CHEM 120 or CHEM 142; CHEM 220 or 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. No textbook is required, but class PowerPoint notes are provided. Reserve material is placed on-line. Students enrolled in the 5-credit course will work in small groups and prepare a PowerPoint oral presentation.

The final grade for FISH/MICROM 490 is determined by evaluating student performances in examinations based upon the lecture material and reading assignments, an oral presentation, and class participation.


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: 02/21/2012