Credit: 3 Units
Instructor(s): Wilkins
Offered: Spring (crosslisted with Earth Sciences)

Lecture Topics:

  • The physical properties of microorganisms as they relate to respiration, mineral nucleation, and transport of solutes
  • Abundance and diversity of microorganisms in subsurface environments, including the deep biosphere
  • The mechanisms via which microorganisms can exist in the absence of oxygen, and how these metabolisms can alter the local and global environment (e.g., sulfide generation, iron oxidation)
  • Microbially-catalyzed cycling of iron and sulfur in the present and the early-earth. This topic will include discussions on microbial iron- and sulfate-reduction, and microbial oxidation of reduced iron and sulfur species
  • Harnessing of microbial metabolism for the in situ remediation of contaminant metals and organic compounds
  • Microbially-catalyzed mineral precipitation and weathering
  • Role of microorganisms in early Earth, including the generation of reduced chemical species, and the response to oxygenation of Earth's atmosphere.

Learning Outcomes:

Successful students will be able to..

  • Understand microbial roles in carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur cycling across aerobic and anaerobic environments
  • Describe the constraints on microbial abundances and growth rates in the subsurface
  • Understand critical, newly discovered metabolic processes such as Commamox, Anammox, and long-range electron transfer
  • Understand the role of redox chemistry in coupled microbial-geochemical reactions
  • Describe microbe-metal interactions, including reduction and oxidation of iron and manganese minerals
  • Appreciate the role of microorganisms in remediation of contaminated subsurface environments
  • Understand the role and effects of viral activity in the subsurface