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Microbial Evolution & Ecology


Admission requirements

Basic knowledge of microbiology, molecular biology and/or ecology.


The course covers various aspects of the important role of microorganisms in their natural environments. This includes the role of bacteria and fungi in the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, the interactions and communication among microbes and with plant and animal hosts, the role of microorganisms in food chains as well as microbial aspects of nutrient cycles and environmental pollution, antagonist-plant pathogens interactions at the molecular and cellular levels, and the evolutionary aspects of diversification and community interactions. The course teaches modern approaches to detect and understand the causes of diversity of microbial communities. Specialists in various fields of microbial evolution and ecology, both scientists from the IBL but also guest speakers from other universities and research institutes will contribute to the course lectures.

Course Objectives

After completion of the course, students are able to:  

  • Explain the beneficial and harmful roles of microorganisms in natural systems.  

  • Explain the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms by which microorganisms interact with each other and with plants or animals as pathogens, commensals and mutualists. 

  • List different evolutionary and ecological mechanisms regulating microbial diversity and can discuss how these interactions evolved and are coordinated at a community level. 

  • Measure and isolate microbial communities from natural sources. 

  • Explain how microbiomes are shaped and can carry out analyses of microbiome composition.  

  • Design and conduct experiments in microbial ecology and evolution and analyze microbial community data.  

  • Discuss the development and consequences of microbiome engineering for plant and animal health.  


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudymap will automatically be displayed in MyTimetable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Pleas note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of Instruction

Not applicable.

Assessment method

Written exam.

Reading list

Not applicable.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudymap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.
Extensive FAQ on MyStudymap can be found here.


Coördinator: Dr. D. Rozen


Inspection and feedback on the examination date: to be announced.
Lecture attendance is compulsory.