Fall and Spring
Credit: 3 graduate 
Instructor(s): Zoe Pratte

Course Description

Microorganisms were the first organisms on Earth and are still the most abundant and diverse group of organisms on the planet. They are essential components of ecosystems (including the human body) and are increasingly being used as alternative energy sources, as bioremediation agents, as fertilizers in agriculture, and more. This course will provide a solid foundation on core microbial ecology and environmental microbiology topics and familiarize students with both landmark and current literature in these fields. Students will evaluate published studies and be able to put those within the context of current microbial ecology issues. In addition this course will encourage students to formulate their own questions with regards to probing microbial community structure or function in different environments and design experiments to address those questions.

Meeting Place and Times



I received my Ph.D. from Florida International University, examining bleaching and disease susceptibilities of two closely related brain corals. For my Ph.D. investigations, I used a combination of microscopy, coral transcriptomics, and bacterial 16S rRNA metagenomics. In this lab, I am continuing my work with bacterial metagenomics, exploring how gut microbiome communities differ in diversity and function among species and families of marine fish. Future investigations will elucidate how differences in fish microbiome communities affect the ecological behavior and health of fishes.


Graduate standing in LRES Graduate program or permission of instructor. An undergraduate biology course is required, an undergraduate microbiology required is recommended.

Time Commitment:

8-10 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

See the Online Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid page.

If you are also taking a face-to-face course, please refer to the MSU Fee Schedules.

Required Books/Materials

  • Brock Biology of Microorganisms, 16th Ed
    Author(s): Michael Madigan, Kelly Bender, Daniel Buckley Cornell, W. Matthew Sattley, David Stahl
    Publisher: Pearson, 2021

Optional Books/Materials:

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

Marni Rolston 

How to Register

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course.

Learn how to apply.

After your application has been accepted, you will register via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

Registration requires a PIN number. Learn how to find your PIN.

Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.