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First Semester 
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)
[60/56]  INDUSTRIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY [60/56-00 - Ord. 2013]  PERCORSO COMUNE 6 60


The main goal is to gain a basic understanding on the kinetics of the growth in suspension of microorganisms and the corresponding nutrient consumption, from the experimental (by carrying out runs in lab scale ideal reactors) as well as theoretical perspectives (by application of the prime principles of conservation on data measured in the lab). In particular, students will learn to understand and manage microbial growth in suspension (as a function of culture medium, organic substrate limitation and macro-nutrients), to perform standard measurements to assess growth (optical density and dry weight for biomass, nutrients concentrations as well as system temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen concentration) as well as the basic Mathematical equations used to quantitatively study microbial growth kinetics and the rationale running of standard biological reactors.


It is highly recommended that the following courses were already taken: Math, Phisycs, Phisico-Chemistry, General Chemistry, Analytic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and General Microbiology. A basic knowledge of a data treatment software as Microsoft Excel or Microcalc Origin would be highly appreciated.


Laboratory safety (safety regulations in the workplace; the most common risk factors in the laboratory; biohazards in the laboratory; classification of biological agents; laboratory biosafety measures; material safety data sheets for products used in the laboratory)
Explanation of frequently used auxiliary equipment (centrifuge; temperature controlled shaker apparatus; filtration devices; pH meter; spectrophotometer)
Explanation of main measurements on samples from biological reactors (optical density; pH; volumetric flow rate; dry weight; enzymatic determination of sugars)
Carrying out laboratory experiments (preparation of acid, basic and buffer solutions; preparation of equipment; preparation of the starting culture for inoculation of the bioreactor; carrying out the experiment)
Microbial growth in shaken bottles and perfectly mixed bioreactors (Batch, CSTR with and without recycle) by varying the amount of the organic substrate (Glucose), the type of the organic substrate (Glucose, Sucrose, and Vanillic, characterized by easy, intermediate and difficult bio-degradability, respectively), pH, mechanical agitation (Residence Time Distribution analysis in CSTR and PFR reactors by means of input-output step test with a tracer)
The International Systemof Units; base and derived units; elements of mathematical analysis (algebraic and differential equations); material balance (with and without reaction); reaction velocity and stoichiometry; material balance in Batch and CSTR reactors; enzymatic reaction kinetics (Michaelis-Menten) e inhibition (competitive, a-competitive and non-competitive); determination of enzymatic reaction kinetics (Lineweaver-Burk plot); kinetics and stoichiometry of microbial growth kinetics (Monod growth phases, Monod, Haldane, Contois and Tessier kinetic expressions).

Teaching Methods

The program divided in 2 sections (experimental and theoretical) will be developed in 60 hours (48 hours devoted to experimental/laboratory activities and 24 hours to theoretical analisys).
The 48 hours dedicated to lab experimental activities will be divided in 9 sections of 4 hours: during the first section safety in the lab will be addressed along with the guidelines for writing a report on the experimental runs to be carried out; in the second section, the materials and method to be used during the program will be explained (equipment, measurements and measuring devices and the corresponding working principle will be detailed); in the third section microbial growth in shaken bottles will be performed at varying glucose concentration; in the fourth and fifth sections, microbial growth and the corresponding consumption of organic substrate will be followed in a Batch bioreactor, while the effect of the use of different organic substrates will be measured by means of shaken bottles; in the sixth section the effect of pH will be investigated in shaken bottle and Batch reactor; in the remaining three section out of nine the effect of mechanical agitation will be analyzed by performing input-output step tests with tracer on CSTR (with and without recycle) and PFR reactors.

The 24 hours of the theoretical section will be divided in 12 Lessons/exercises of 2 hours: one third of these lessons/exercise will be devoted to reviewing mathematical analysis, chemical kinetics and introducing to material balances; then, one third will address enzymatic kinetics expressions with inhibition and identification of the corresponding adjustable parameters (problem solving on enzymatic kinetics, by comparison with experimental measurements, i.e. fitting, through regression analysis); in the residual third of lessons/exercises the theoretical analysis of microbial growth kinetics in Batch an CSTR reacting systems will be addressed (problem solving on microbial growth kinetics, by comparison with experimental measurements, i.e. fitting, through regression analysis).

Verification of learning

The instructor must receive the written reports on the laboratory tests carried out throughout the course within one week.
The final examination consists of an oral exam on the theoretical aspects dealt with during the course.
The student’s final grade will be based on several factors: i) diligence shown and ability to work in the laboratory (evaluated during the course), ii) ability to describe the phenomena observed and depict data obtained and finally to illustrate the results (by means of written reports), iii) theoretical preparation relative to the subjects dealt with during the course (on the basis of the mark awarded for the oral examination).


1) Becker J.M., Caldwell G.A., Zachgo E.A. - Biotechnology: a laboratory course. Academic Press.
2) Stainer R.Y., Doudoroff M., Adelberg E.A. – Il mondo dei microrganismi. Zanichelli.
3) Genon G. - Processi Biologici Industriali - CLUT Editrice

More Information

Material at students’ disposal: 1) a scientific article to be used as a model for the layout of written reports relative to the experimental tests carried out in the laboratory; 2) PDF and PPT files on some lessons and experimental activities taken in the classroom or in the laboratory.

Questionnaire and social

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