2023-2024 / MICR0720-1

Phycology and mycology


20h Th, 10h Pr

Number of credits

 Bachelor in biology3 crédits 


Denis Baurain

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

[UPDATED IN 2023] An introductory lecture (1h40) covers the large-scale organization of living organisms and makes a point of showing the unexpected diversity of "protists" (eukaryotic microbes), including "algae" and "fungi". Take-home messages of this first lecture are the need for a natural classification and the inadequacy of traditional groupings.

The next nine lectures paint a picture of the different groups of algae (including cyanobacteria) and fungi (sensu lato) and replace them in a proper evolutionary context, as deduced from molecular phylogenetics. For each group, a range of key species are discussed in more detail.

The general outline of these ten lectures is given below.

2. Presentation of biochemical and ultrastructural characters, of which variation among main groups of algae makes that those organisms display a much greater diversity of cellular organization than animals and land plants, in spite of a deceivingly simple morphology.

3. Introduction to the fungal way of life.

4. Presentation of blue-green algae, whose prokaryotic nature places in a peculiar phylogenetic position ("cyanobacteria") but whose ecological role is similar to that of other algae. Main themes: importance in present ecosystems, nitrogen fixation, toxins and morphological evolution.

5-8. Presentation of eukaryotic algae, mainly red, green and brown algae, as well as the main planktonic algae (e.g., dinoflagellates, diatoms). Main themes: evolution of eukaryotes (origin, loss or gain of plastid, origin of land plants), ecological and economical (mucilages) importance of benthic algae, primary production, trophic role and toxic blooms of planktonic algae, dinoflagellate symbioses.

9. Presentation of Ascomycetes. Among those organisms, a special attention is given to yeasts as technological and scientific tools (small and completely sequenced genomes, transformations, fermentations). Other themes: parasites and symbionts (lichens), mycotoxins and antibiotics.

10. Presentation of Basidiomycetes, insisting on their role as mycorhizal symbionts or wood-rotters (ecological importance, destruction of timber, biotechnological potential of the capacity to metabolize lignin).

Practical teaching is in principle based on the collection of fungi in the surrounding of the Botanical Institute, their observation in the laboratory and attempts at cultivation. Algae from the pond near the Institute are treated in the same way.

WARNING: This year, exceptionally, practicals will only cover algae. However, a guided tour of the annual expo on fungi organized by the Botanical Society of Liège at the World of Plants Observatory (OMP) is scheduled and will illustrate the theorical courses.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

They are four objectives to this course:

  • To get used to the main groups of organisms traditionally considered as algae and fungi.
  • To understand their position in the diversity of Life as well as the main lines of their classification.
  • To discover a range of organisms that broadly sample these groups and that are interesting for evolutionary, ecological, medical, experimental or industrial reasons.
  • To experiment with observing and identifying some species living in the surroundings of the Sart Tilman.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

A minimal knowledge of general biology and biochemistry.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Laboratory practicals are mandatory. This year, they only correspond to two half-days (devoted to algae) in laboratories located at the -1 floor of the Botanical Institute B22 in the Sart Tilman campus. Fresh material is collected in the surroundings of the building, located near the forest, at the beginning of the course.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

Assistance to the lectures is useful for they are interactive, which helps to digest the course content. Further, teaching is supported by a large number of original illustrations.

For laboratory practicals, one needs A4 paper (standard printing paper), pencil and eraser.


Recommended or required readings

Slides will be made available to students at the latest the day before each class through eCampus. A summary of the lecture (with missing words to find) will be also given to the students at the beginning of each class.

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( multiple-choice questionnaire )

Additional information:

Final note is made up for 20% by appreciations of the laboratory reports and 80% by the written examination (multiple choices form). WARNING: Missed practicals (for whatever reason) ARE WORTH ZERO when computing the average note for laboratory reports. Moreover, laboratory practicals can be taken only once a year.


Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

Taking notes on a laptop or tablet is allowed. However, students are expected not to surf or chat in the classroom.
Course materials and additional documents will be made available on eCampus.


Prof. Denis Baurain
Institut de Botanique B22 (P70)

Mrs Rosa Gago


Association of one or more MOOCs