Environmental biotechnology

A.Y. 2014/2015
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course deals with applications of microbial and plant biotechnology relevant to environmental protection. Part 1 deals mainly with microorganisms, Part 2 with plants; both modules will however tackle examples of plant-microorganism interactions, both symbiotic and pathological.
Course syllabus and organization

Unique edition

Lesson period
First semester
Part 1 - 3 CFU
Introduction to meta-omics approaches. Metagenomics, metatranscriptomics and metaproteomics as tools for the assessment of microbial populations in the environment, the discovery of new microbial species, and new genes and molecules relevant to biotechnologies and agriculture. Examples of plant-microbe interactions relevant to agriculture.

Part 2 - 3 CFU
Agriculture vs. environment and the role of biotechnology to reduce the conflict.
The 'domestication syndrome': main and secondary traits, implications for the invasiveness and persistence of crop plants. Identification of relevant genes (syndrome genes or any other) and their exploitation.
Environmental risks and benefits of transgenic plants vs. conventionally bred plants, with particular reference to the international 'process-oriented' laws (Rio Convention, Cartagena Protocol), its aim and effects. Comparison between different methods of genetic manipulation (e.g.: mutagenesis, cell culture, wide area crosses, use of tumorigenic bacteria, transgenesis...), risks and strategies for mitigation.
Plants for an improved environmental sustainability: 1) for producing biodegradable plastics, 2) for bioremediation, 3) as contamination biosensors, 4) plant defense responses to microbial pathogens and the creation of resistant varieties.
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via Celoria 26, Tower C, floor n.2