The Microbial Diversity Course

The course is an intensive six-and-a-half-week research and training experience for graduate or postdoctoral students, as well as established investigators, who want to become competent in microbiological techniques for working with a broad range of microbes, and in approaches for recognizing the metabolic, phylogenetic, and genomic diversity of cultivated and as yet uncultivated bacteria. Admission is limited to 20 students.

(See former students’ comments/evaluations)

Woods Hole, Massachusetts
The diverse environment found in and around Woods Hole provide a natural laboratory for the Microbial Diversity Course. Easy access to local marine and freshwater environments provide an ideal natural setting for the study of metabolically and phylogenetically diverse microbes.

The Sippewissett Salt Marsh is a unique and valuable ecosystem which is the focus of much research in the course. The site develops microbial mats, as well as common blooms of Purple sulfur bacteria, and sulfur oxidizing bacteria. Spectacular populations of purple sulfur bacteria in the Sippewissett Salt Marsh (left) fulfill a pivotal role in the modern day sulfur cycle, and employ a form of photosynthesis that may have been the first type of energy metabolism on Earth.

This course is supported with funds provided by


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Save the Date!

Celebrate the 50th year of the Microbial Diversity Course with a Symposium scheduled on August 8, 2020 in the MBL’s Lillie Auditorium.

Details and speaker list will be posted in fall of 2019 to the Symposium web page. Address any questions to George O’Toole.