Developmental biology and genetics

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Objectives of the course are the knowledge of the genetic and molecular control of plant and animal development. Capability to discuss developmental processes and to compare different model organisms.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student will be:
- familiar with important genetic/molecular mechanisms controlling plant and animal development.
- familiar with various experimental approaches in different model organisms, including cutting-edge technologies, and
- able to critically evaluate experimental data.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Course syllabus
The model organisms most commonly used in Developmental Genetics and Biology will be presented.
Differentiation and morphogenesis processes will be analyzed at a genetic and molecular level, in order to understand how cells of the same organism can differentiate into distinct cell types and organize into complex structures. Significant examples of animal development and plant development will be discussed, with a particular emphasis on the zebrafish and Arabidopsis model systems, respectively.
Major signaling pathways with multiple roles in developmental processes in animals as well as in human pathological conditions will be discussed. Emphasis will be given to the role of RNA localization and translation in development, starting from classical examples in Drosophila development and pointing to dysfunctional processes in human diseases.
An overview of the impact of microRNAs on animal developmental processes will be given, starting from their discovery in C. elegans and pointing to their relevance in human disease. A particular emphasis will be given to the zebrafish model system and the various genetic tools, which have been used in this organism to study development and to model human diseases.
Examples of Plant developmental mechanisms will be discussed with the students. In particular the course will focus on genetic and molecular control of organogenesis. Furthermore, some example of developmental regulation mediated by long non-coding RNAs and microRNAs, at transcriptional and post-transcriptional level will be discussed.
Prerequisites for admission
A good basic knowledge of genetics, molecular biology, and is required.
Teaching methods
Powerpoint-assisted lectures and interactive discussions. Students will be stimulated to critically analyze experimental data from original papers and draw their own conclusions, thus, attendance at lectures is strongly encouraged. Experts in the field of developmental biology and genetics will be invited to cover specific aspects of the course.
Teaching Resources
This course is mainly based on the recent scientific literature in the field and therefore most of the study material consists of research papers. Students with little previous knowledge on animal developmental biology are encouraged to use a basic textbook (for example Scott F. Gilbert, Developmental biology, Sinauer Associates, Inc., 9th edition) as a starting reference point. Students with little knowledge of plant biology and development will be given 5 updated reviews to build a solid base.
All teaching material (Powerpoint presentations, reference papers and book chapters) will be made available through the Ariel website.
Assessment methods and Criteria
An oral examination on animal and plant developmental biology and genetics is required. The oral examination for the animal developmental biology and genetics will be based on the analysis of several slides from the Power point presentations, as a starting point to assess the knowledge acquired on different aspects of the program and the ability to critically interpret experimental data as well as to make links between different topics and/or model systems. The oral examination for the plant developmental biology and genetics part of the course will include a poster presentation on a selected topic and some questions on the topics presented during the course. The final mark takes into account the results achieved in both parts of the exam.
BIO/18 - GENETICS - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours