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300128 UE Marine Microbial Symbiosis Course (2017S)

10.00 ECTS (6.00 SWS), SPL 30 - Biologie
Continuous assessment of course work

300281 VO Symbiosis - concepts and model systems
300496 VO Meereskunde



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


max. 10 participants
Language: English



first meeting: 3.3. 10.15 - 11.15, Seminarraum Meeresbiologie, attendance required
weekly meetings: Friday 10.15 - 11.45, Seminarraum Meeresbiologie
Research Stay: 6. - 21. 9. 2017, Marine Biology Station, Piran, Slovenia


Aims, contents and method of the course

This course provides an introduction into the practical field of marine microbial symbiosis research. Emphasis is laid on a multidisciplinary integrative approach, ranging from microbial to organismal biology to ecology. Every course has a specific topic that will be discussed in seminars. Students will learn how to cooperate in small groups, develop a research project, get an overview on the relevant literature, develop hypotheses, research questions and a research plan, organize the field trip, get familiar with underwater field and lab work, carry out practical work under the given circumstances, and present their results in form of oral presentations and a written report. A research station, appropriate for the selected topic will be chosen for a two-weeks field trip.
Topic of course 2017:
Diverse microbial symbioses live in shallow-water, tropical marine environments, from 1) photoautotrophic dinoflagellates and bacteria associated with anemone, 2) thiotrophic bacterial symbionts with protists, nematodes, oligochaetes, and clams 3) multi-species consortia in sponges, 4) heterotroph, anaerobic methanogens and sulfate reducing bacteria in protists, 5) nitrogen fixing bacteria in shipworms. The ecosystems found in the Northern Adriatic Sea span intertidal mudflats, intertidal and subtidal sediments, seagrass meadows, and estuarines.
According to chosen model systems, we will search for symbioses in situ, and characterize the their distribution and abundance in the habitat (location, depth, temperature, salinity, pH, oxygen, sulfide, nitrate). Experiments will be designed by the students and carried out in the laboratory.
NO scuba diving, snorkeling required (ABC equipment required, diving suite recommended)
Underwater sampling of animals, wood, water and porewater, sediment; underwater photography and video; measurements of temperature, salinity, pH, oxygen, sulfide, nitrate; dissection-, light- and epifluorescence microsopy and photography and video, extraction and filtration techniques for microbes and animals, stainings: DAPI, live/dead bacterial viability, nile red and bodipy staining, biofilm cell stain, flow-through experimental chamber maintenance

Assessment and permitted materials

Evaluation will be according to the quality of the presentation each student has to prepare and present including literature search; development of research questions, design of in situ sampling and experiments, and specific participation in practical team work during the research stay and discussions, presentation of results as oral presentations and a written report.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Aim is to get familiar with microbial symbioses and their habitats and to understand the conditions under which they thrive.

Examination topics

Selected topics and methods in marine microbial symbiosis
evaluation: 60% written report, 40% oral presentations, practical work and discussions

Reading list

Bronstein J. L. Mutualism. Oxford University Press (2015).
Douglas, A. E. The symbiotic habit. Princeton and Oxford, Princeton University Press. (2010).

Association in the course directory


Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:43