Environmental Biotechnology and –Omics

Course Description:   Environmental biotechnology describes the use of organisms to improve environmental quality, either through remediating contamination, producing goods with lower environmental impacts, or as sensitive monitors of environmental processes.  All of these pursuits have rapidly progressed largely due to so-called “-omic” approaches, which involve the analysis of biomolecules and their interactions in an organism or in the environment (meta-om ics).  For example, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics involve the analysis of expression patterns and interactions among the totality of genes, proteins and metabolites.  Principles and environmental applications of genomic and proteomic approaches will be discussed and critically evaluated, and -omic datasets will be analyzed.

Learning Objectives:
• Review the metabolic flexibility of microbes and how this is harnessed to address environmental problems.  
• Understand the inter-relationships among microbial growth, biomass production, substrate (i.e., contaminant) concentration and removal rate through lecture materials and problem sets.
• Understand how molecular methods are developed and utilized to detect environmental contamination or monitor the effectiveness of remediation measures.
• Understand the various -omic approaches and current platforms, evaluate strengths and limitations as applied towards specific environmental applications.
• Handle ribosomal and protein/peptide datasets to determine species and protein identities, through in class / after class computer exercises, and homework assignments.
• Enhance skills for critically evaluating and discussing the appropriate peer reviewed scientific articles assigned throughout the course.