Universität Wien FIND

300125 VO Symbiosis - concepts and model systems (Part 1) (2020W)

3.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 30 - Biologie


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


Language: English

Examination dates



The lecture series will be held online. Material will be uploaded each week by Friday. If you have questions please email us.


Aims, contents and method of the course

Symbiosis is one of the driving forces of evolution. The eukaryotic cell and thus all plants, animals and fungi arose from a symbiosis between ancient prokaryotes and today, microbial symbioses dominate our planet.

This lecture series focuses on symbiotic associations between microbes and protists, plants, and animals, including humans. Introductory lectures present key concepts of symbiosis. Lectures on selected model systems illustrate the importance of symbiosis for virtually all life forms. They discuss ecological and evolutionary forces driving symbiotic associations at the molecular level. Topics of introductory lectures include definitions of symbiosis and terminology, diversity of microbial symbioses and their habitats, the eukaryotic cell and endosymbiosis theory, transmission processes, host immune response to microbial symbionts, genome evolution and lateral gene transfer, as well as current evolutionary and game theory concepts of interspecies cooperation.

Conceptual Lectures:
Some moments of confusion – what is symbiosis? Terminology and characterization of symbiosis
Should I stay or should I go - Immunity basics for symbiologists
Symbiont transmission
Symbiont cell biology
How the symbionts influence the host epigenome (and vice versa)
God bless endosymbiosis: The origin of the eukaryotic cell

Model system Lectures:
A sea of symbionts: cnidarian symbioses
Solar powered sea slugs
Thanks to hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide) - an overview of chemosynthetic symbioses
Hot and toxic - giant tubeworms at deep-sea hydrothermal vents
Clam and mussel symbioses in chemosynthesis-based ecosystems
Ship worms on wood - zombie worms on bones
Burying the head in the sand: reproductive anomalies of marine nematode symbionts
Sponge symbioses
Fiat lux: the squid-Vibrio symbiosis

Assessment and permitted materials

Written exam
Permitted material: personal notes and printout of uploaded material.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Participants get familiar with our current understanding and perception of symbiotic associations. They have an overview of the molecular mechanisms shared by many symbiotic systems and possess in-depth knowledge of the presented model systems, including their ecology and evolution.

Examination topics

Content of lectures

Reading list

Selected literature and/or transcripts of lectures are available online for the participants..

Association in the course directory

MBO 7, MEC-9, MES5, MMEI II-1.2, MMEI II-2.2, MMB W-2, MGE III-2, UF MA BU 01, UF MA BU 04

Last modified: We 21.04.2021 11:27