Biochemistry and plant physiology

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Aim of the Course is to provide tools for the comprehension of the basic principles of plant biochemistry and physiology. In particular the effects of environmental conditions on plant biochemical and physiological processes and the plant adaptive responses to the environment will be studied in order to understand the mechanisms involved in crop plant production.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge of the mechanisms involved in the regulation of energy and matter transformation in plants. Knowledge of basic biochemical and physiological processes determining crop plant production. Criteria and methods tfor preliminary evaluation of the effects of environmental and stress conditions on plant crop production.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
Principles of bioenergetics and thermodynamics: thermodynamics laws, enthropy and free energy. Exo- and endoergonic reactions. ATP and phosphor group transfer. Energetically coupled reactions. Redox reactions: relationship between changes in redox potential and changes in free energy. Thermodynamics and kinetics of enzymatic catalysis: Michaelis-Menten equation. Inhibition and regulation of enzyme-catalyzed reactions. Carbon metabolism: degradation of storage polysaccharides, glycolysis and fermentation. Effects of hypoxia and anoxia in plants. TCA cycle. Electron flux and oxidative phosphorylation. Mitchell's chemiosmosis theory. Energy yield of respiration. Other mechanisms of O2 consumption in plants. The pentose-P pathway. Beta-oxydation of fatty acids and the glyoxylate cycle. Photosynthesis: the electromagnetic spectrum, chemistry and physiology of photosynthetic pigments. Photosystems: light-harvesting complexes and reaction centres. Photosynthetic electron flux and photophosphorylation. Effects of herbicides on the photosynthetic electron transport. Photoxydative damage. Carbon assimilation: C3 cycle, photorespiration, C4 cycle, CAM metabolism. Ecophysiology of photosynthesis. Carbon allocation: synthesis of starch and sucrose. Plants and water: the water potential and the factors contributing to water potential. Water and the plant cell: osmosis, cell turgor, expansion growth. Water absorption by the root: apoplastic and symplastic pathways. Transpirational water movement in the xylem. Driving forces of transpiration, water diffusion through the stomata, regulation of stomata opening. Plant adaptations to water stress. Mineral nutrition: essential nutrients, nutritional deficiencies and plant physiological disorders, nutrient bio-availability. Solute transport in plant cells: transmembrane chemical and electrochemical potential. Thermodynamics and kinetics of transmembrane solute transport. Pumps, carriers and channels. Assimilation of nitrate and sulphate. Phloem transport: osmotically generated pressure flow, phloem loading and unloading. Assimilate partitioning: sink-source relationship.
Prerequisites for admission
Botany, General and Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry
Teaching methods
Whole class teaching and in-depth and clarification classroom exercises on the course-program topics
Teaching Resources
Teaching material is available for students at the
Recommended textbooks: 1 - Lehninger A.L., Nelson D.L., Cox M.M. Introduzione alla biochimica. Ed. Zanichelli, Bologna. 2 - Taiz L., Zeiger E. Elementi di Fisiologia Vegetale. Ed. Piccin Padova
Other textbooks: 1- N. Rascio et al. "Elementi di Fisiologia Vegetale", EdiSES, Bologna, 2012. 2 - Alpi A., Pupillo P, Rigano C. Fisiologia delle Piante. EdiSES, Bologna.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Two written examinations in itinere, at about halfway and at the end of the course. Each test consists of 26 multiple choice questions plus 4 open questions, one of which requires a detailed discussion on a biochemical or physiological topic. During the year, written examination are foreseen approx. monthly.
AGR/13 - AGRICULTURAL CHEMISTRY - University credits: 6
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Negrini Noemi
Educational website(s)