Course: Polar microbiology and astrobiology

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Course title Polar microbiology and astrobiology
Course code KBO/323
Organizational form of instruction Lecture + Lesson
Level of course Doctoral
Year of study not specified
Frequency of the course In academic years starting with an even year (e.g. 2016/2017), in the summer semester.
Semester Summer
Number of ECTS credits 3
Language of instruction Czech
Status of course unspecified
Form of instruction unspecified
Work placements unspecified
Recommended optional programme components None
  • Šabacká Marie, Mgr. Ph.D.
  • Kvíderová Jana, RNDr. Ph.D.
  • Elster Josef, prof. Ing. CSc.
Course content
Content of lectures: 1) Lecture content, organization issues, polar microbial science, history and recommended literature (J. Elster). 2) Benthos of polar freshwater habitats, characteristics, methods of studies, lotic and lentic ecosystems, composition of communities, stromatolites of Antarctic lakes (J. Elster). 3) Polar marine planktonic and benthic communities, differences in marine and freshwater communities, zonation, endopelon (J. Elster). 4) Terrestrial - soil, aerophytic and endolithic communities, characteristics, differences in methods (J. Elster). 5) Stress physiology, acclimation, adaptation, stress resistance, changes in membranes, in enzymes, protective substances, low temperature biology, classification (J. Elster). 6) Physiology of polar microorganisms - radiation (VIS, UV), ypes of radiation, value ranges in the polar regions, adaptation - VIS: effects, quality and quantity, photosynthesis a photoinhibition, adaptation - UV: effects, protective mechanisms. 7) Solar radiation in polar environment, visible, UV, adaptations, photosynthesis, photoinhibition, protection (J. Kvíderová). 8) Water, osmotic stress, desiccation, freezing injuries, salinity stress, production of protective substances (J. Elster). 9) Evolution of microorganisms in polar habitats, biogeography, endosymbiosis (O. Strunecký). 10) Polar ecosystems - Earth analogues of extraterrestrial environments, polar ecosystems as terrestrial analogues, experimental sites in polar ecosystems. 11) Cold deserts - Mars analogue, description and comparison of physical and chemical conditions, ecosystems and communities of terrestrial analogue, hypothetic ecosystems and communities of Mars 12) Sea ice - analogue of ice moons of outer planets, description and comparison of physical and chemical conditions, ecosystems and communities of terrestrial analogue, hypothetic ecosystems and communities of ice moons. Content of practicals: In practicals there will be introduced and tested laboratory and filed methods, which are commonly used in the study of polar freshwater periphytic communities. As the part of practical there will be performed a field experiment, which brings information about periphyton diversity and primary production in temporal pools of the Upper Lužnice River inundation area during spring flood. Students will line up the bottom of selected pools and river with pre-weight strips of fibreglass-net. After several days of exposure to algal colonisation, the nets covered with algae will be collected and algal biovolume, ash-free biomass and chlorophyll a will be evaluated. Species diversity and primary production of periphyton together with physico-chemical parameters of flooding water will be evaluated.

Learning activities and teaching methods
Monologic (reading, lecture, briefing), Work with text (with textbook, with book), Laboratory, Individual preparation for exam, Excursion, Practical training
  • Class attendance - 120 hours per semester
Learning outcomes
The lecture offers basic overview of microbial ecology in extreme environment of polar ecosystems (terrestrial and freshwater) and brings information about their ecological functioning. Simultaneously, it brings information about ecological and physiological mechanisms of adaptation to polar environment and evolution of microorganisms in polar habitats. The lecture also summarizes the extremophilic organisms and their environments that are used as Earth analogues of extraterrestrial conditions on planets and moons. Each student has to participate on 13 lectures (it is allowed to absent on two lectures), has to participate on field measurements, has to prepare presentation from field measurements. The final examin consists, writing test, presentation from field measurements and final oral exam.
Course is recomended for advanced master of science students and/or advanced PhD students. It brings information about diversity and ecology of microorganisms in extreme polar habitats, in habitas in selected bodies of Solar system, where similar ecological conditions could potentially exist. It also comper conditions in temparary habitats, which develop during extreme climatic events (flloods, very high temperature and dry conditions), or during extreme antrophogenic events (leakage of toxic substances, etc.).
Polar microbiology and astrobiology is course, which brings information about selected extreme habitats in polar ecosystem and in possible habitats with similar ecological conditions in bodies of Solar system. Simultaneously, it brings information about temporal habitats, which could develop in central Europe during climatically extreme events or under catastrophic antrophogenic activities (floods, extreme hot and dry conditions, devastation of landscape, impact of toxic substances, atc.). Course is recomended for edvanced master students and selected PhD students. Each student has to participate of 13 two hours lectures (could absent on two lectures), has to participate on field exercise, and has to present results from field exercise during final seminar. Final exam consist writing test, presentation of results from field measurements. On base of these two parts of exam the student is invited for oral exam.

Assessment methods and criteria
Course could alternate, even year in Czech language, odd year in English. The course also offer field exercise, which monitor changes in nival system of Luznice river during whinter or early spring flood.
Recommended literature
  • Beyer L. and Boelter M. (eds.) (2002) GeoEcology of Terrestrial Oases Ecological Studies, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg..
  • Callaghan TV et al. (2005) Arctic Tundra and Polar Desert Ecosystems 243 - 353. Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Cambridge University Press pp. 1039..
  • Campbell B, Claridge GGC (1987) Antarctica: soils, weathering processes and environment. Cambridge..
  • Fogg GE (1998) The biology of polar habitats. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Friedmann EI (ed.) (1993) Antarctic microbiology. Wiley-Liss, NewYork.
  • Fuller B, Lane N. and Benson EE (eds.) (2004) Life In The Frozen State. Taylor and Francis, London, pp. 111- 149..
  • Tedrow JCF (1977) Soils of the polar landscapes. Rutgers University Press, New.
  • Vincent WF, Laybourn-Parry J. (eds.) (2008) Polar Lakes and Rivers: Limnology of Arctic and Antarctic Aquatic Ecosystems. Oxford University Press..
  • Vincent WF (1988) Microbial ecosystem of Antarctica. Cambridge University Press,.

Study plans that include the course
Faculty Study plan (Version) Category of Branch/Specialization Recommended year of study Recommended semester