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Climate Change Microbiology

Master in Life Science, ENS
BIO-M2-CliCMic | Climate Change Microbiology
Level | Semester : M2 | S1
Where : Biology department, ENS
Duration : 1 week
Dates : December 9-13, 2024
Maximum class size : 20 students

—2024-2025 programme to come—


Alice Lebreton, IBENS group BIRD, ENS-PSL




Earth climate| Microorganisms | Microbial ecosystems | One health | Eutrophication | Carbon sink | Zoonosis | Remediation | Interdependance

Course prerequisites

General knowledge in ecology and in microbiology, with a basic understanding of classical concepts in molecular biology and genetics.

Course objectives and description

This course offers a broad overview of microbial functions and ecosystems studied in the specific context of anthropogenic climate change. Based on recent research in the field, it delineates how microbial life and its perturbations influence climate or modulate the consequences of its change, and reciprocally how microorganisms respond to global changes. It aims at providing concrete tools to understand why microbial diversity needs to be taken into account as a primordial, though unseen, ingredient of climate diagnosis, policies and action.

  • Microbes in the past of Earth and of its climate
    How has microbial life contributed to the building of Earth as we know it ? This theme emphasizes its effects on the composition of the atmosphere, hydrosphere and Earth’s crust.
  • Microbial contributions to climate change
    This theme documents some of the ways through which microbial activities play a part in climate modulation and its ongoing anthropogenic change. The roles of microbes in the ocean carbon sink, in greenhouse gas emissions and in lake eutrophication are covered.
  • Impact of climate change on microbial ecosystems
    What is the impact of climate change on interactions between microorganisms and their hosts, or with other microbes ? Examples include adaptation to environmental change in the case of plant-fungi interactions ; the breakdown of symbiosis in corals ; or the use of microbiomes as indicators of ecosystemic shifts
  • Infectious threat in a changing world
    Increasing evidence indicates that climate perturbation has broad scale consequences on the spread of infectious disease, including fungal diseases, vector-borne diseases, or contagions in migratory birds. Beyond climate, the risk of zoonotic spillover rises upon ecosystemic disruption.
  • Microbes as remediation perspectives against climate change ?
    In this concluding and prospective theme, some of the proposals that emerge for leveraging microbial properties to mitigate climate change or its effects will be presented and discussed. Applications may cover species and ecosystem conservation, carbon sinks, methane elimination, or alternative microbe-based energy sources.



The week is organized as a series of conferences on each theme, as well as time dedicated to article analysis, group work and critical debate.
All lectures are given in English and the slides for each course are provided via Moodle.


An exam will take place on the last day of the course. Exam questions refer to the course contents or to research documents to be analyzed. The student participation during conferences and group sessions is also taken into account.