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300281 VO Symbiosis - concepts and model systems (2016W)

5.00 ECTS (3.00 SWS), SPL 30 - Biologie


Language: English

Examination dates



Starts on 7.10.2016, 11:15 h, seminar room Mikrobielle Ökologie (2.301), UZA 1.
Dates: Fridays, 11:15 -13:45 h, seminar room Mikrobielle Ökologie (2.301)


Aims, contents and method of the course

Symbiosis is one of the driving forces in 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.

Lectures on selected model systems include:
• Training pays off: Amoebae as evolutionary playground for intracellular bacteria
• Going green: how to use plant symbioses for sustainable agriculture
• Thanks to hydrogen sulfide - an overview of thiotrophic symbioses
• Hot and toxic - giant tubeworms at deep-sea hydrothermal vents
• Fiat lux: the squid-Vibrio symbiosis
• Earthworms with kidneys
• Burying the head in the sand: marine nematode & oligochaete symbioses
• Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Photorhabdus as symbiont and pathogen
• A tale of sex and survival: Wolbachia
• Bacterial symbionts of insects
• A small world: prokaryotic consortia and biofilms
• Gut-associated microbes of invertebrates
• Beware of your microbes: the human microbiota
• Solar powered sea slugs
• A sea of symbionts: cnidarian symbioses
• Viruses in symbiosis

Assessment and permitted materials

Written exam
Exam success is required to participate in the SE Symbiosis – concepts and model systems held every summer semester

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

English language
Lectures with Powerpoint presentations including references are available online for the participants.

Reading list

Association in the course directory

MBO 7, MEC-9, MES5, MMEI II-1.2, MMEI II-2.2, MMEI II-3.2, MEV W-1, MZO W-2, MMB W-2, MGE III-2, UF MA BU 01, UF MA BU 04,

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:43