Computational Tools for Decoding Microbial Ecosystems
9 units (3-0-6) | second term
Microbes, the most diverse and abundant organisms on Earth, are critical to the daily functioning of humans as well as the life-sustaining biogeochemical cycles. This course provides an in-depth exploration of the fascinating world of environmental microbiology and genomics, with a special emphasis on computational approaches for systems-level analysis of microbial communities and their interactions. The course will delve into the diverse roles of microorganisms in environmental processes ranging from nutrient and biogeochemical cycling to predicting the impacts of climate change. It will introduce students to a wide range of computational tools and techniques used in the analysis of microbial genomic data. Topics covered include: microbial community structure and functioning; interactions among microbes and their environment; and the influence of the environment in shaping and driving microbial evolution. Through a combination of lectures, discussions, and hands-on computational exercises, students will gain skills in analyzing, interpreting and visualizing large scale community metagenomic (DNA) and metatranscriptomic (RNA) data from environmental ecosystems. Students will also explore how these computational approaches can be applied to address real-world environmental challenges, broaden understanding of the genetic and metabolic diversity of the microorganisms to better manage ecosystem function, the value of this biodiversity for adaptation to natural and anthropogenic perturbations. Prior experience in Environmental microbiology, shell scripting and python while encouraged is not required.