Microbial Biotechnology

Module code: BS3068

Module co-ordinator: Dr Primrose Freestone

In this module you will study aspects of microbial biochemistry that are of particular importance to the commercial and environmental exploitation of micro-organisms.

Topics covered

  • Principles of microbial biotechnology: key aspects of upstream and downstream processing; primary and secondary metabolites; microbial metabolism concepts revisited.
  • Microbial growth kinetics and bioreactor design: scale–up in the biological industries; recent developments in Bioreactor design.
  • Biotechnology of microbial primary metabolites: food and beverages produced using micro-organisms; brewing, wine making, vinegar manufacture; dairy and other food fermentations; probiotics; production of amino acids and other additives; single cell protein
  • Microbial recombinant protein production: molecular biology concepts revisited; vector design, (bacteria, yeast and insect cells); heterologous protein synthesis, recombinant protein purification; production of industrially important enzymes; recombinant pharmaceutical proteins.
  • Microbes and environmental biotechnology: renewable energy and biofuels; biodegradable plastics; biopesticides; microbial bioremediation.
  • Biotechnology of microbial secondary metabolites: antibiotics as secondary metabolites, antibiotic discovery; current production; development of antibiotics.
  • Antibiotic modes of action, mechanisms of resistance: novel anti-microbials


  • 30 one-hour lectures
  • 5 one-hour seminars
  • 4 one-hour tutorials
  • 5 hours of fieldwork


  • Exam, 3 hours (70%)
  • Poster presentation (15%)
  • Essay, 2,000 words (15%)