Plant Biology and Pharmaceutical botany

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Learning objectives (nuovo testo da inserire in W4):
The aim of the course is to provide the basic knowledge on the structure and function of the plant cell, of the organelles involved in the processes of cell differentiation, respiration, photosynthesis, plant reproduction and growth, on the tissues and organs that characterize vascular plants. The course also provides information on the strategies adopted by plants to interact with the surrounding environment and mediated by the synthesis and release of secondary metabolites and on the importance of plants in many aspects of human life.
Another aim of the course is to provide students with the fundamentals of Pharmaceutical botany with special emphasis on the recognition and description of selected medicinal plant species. During the lectures we will describe the discriminating characters of selected plant species belonging to the following Orders, by indicating the drug and its morphology, anatomy and content in active principles: Pteridophytes (Equisetales), Gymnosperms (Pinaceae, Gingkaceae, Taxaceae), Angiosperms Dicotyledons (Magnoliales, Laurales, Fagales, Illiciales, Ranunculales, Piperales, Papaverales, Hamamelidales, Urticales, Polygonales, Theales, Malvales, Violales, Salicales, Ericales, Rosales, Fabales, Myrtales, Euphorbiales, Rhamnales, Linales, Sapindales, Apiales, Gentianales, Solanales, Lamiales, Plantaginales, Scrophulariales, Dipsacales, Asterales) and Monocotyledons (Arecales, Poales, Zingiberales, Liliales, Orchidales).
The practical lessons and the visits to the Città Studi Botanical Garden (Milan) and to the Ghirardi Botanical Garden (Toscolano Maderno, BS) will allow to complete the course.
The knowledge of these topics will serve as basis for the courses of Pharmacognosy.
Expected learning outcomes
The student will be able to acquire theoretical and basic knowledge to:

- describe the structure of the plant cells, of the cellular organelles involved in cellular respiration, photosynthesis, reproduction and growth, and the structure of tissues and organs;
- recognize and describe the structure of the organs in transverse and longitudinal sections in Gymnosperms and Angiosperms, both Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons;
- describe how plants interact with the surrounding environment through the synthesis and release of secondary metabolites;
- describe the relevance of plants in the food, textile, pharmaceutical, cosmetic sectors etc;
- explain the basic topics of Pharmaceutical botany;
- recognize and identify the species, genus, family and order of selected medicinal plants;
- describe the distinctive botanical characters of the selected medicinal plants, the drug and its active principles;
- describe the ecological roles of these secondary metabolites (e.g., insect repellent or insect attractants) and to know basic information on their biological activities.

The verification of the ability to apply the theoretical and basic knowledge acquired in the course will be carried out by evaluating the results obtained in specific practical experiences in the botanical gardens through the solution of problems involving the knowledge of the topics specified in the educational objectives.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Course syllabus

Animal and plant organisms, differences
Plant nutrition: autotroph and heterotroph orgamisms.
Plant cell
Plastids: chloroplasts, chromoplasts, amyloplasts
Vacuole: origin, development, functions. Vacuolar content with particular reference to secondary metabolites.
Transport across the plasma membrane. Osmotic phenomena, plasmolysis and deplasmolysis. Osmotic pressure, turgor pressure.

Middle lamella and cell wall. Genesis and development of the cell wall. Cell wall functions.
Chemical components of the cell wall: cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin substances. Secondary modifications of the cell wall: lignification, suberization, mineralization, cutinization.

Tissues in higher plant. Primary and secondary meristematic tissues. Embryonic growth and distension growth. Differentiation. Adult tissues: parenchymatic, tegumental, mechanical, secretory, conductive.

Organography: stem, leaves, root apparatus.
Stem anatomy: vegetative apex, stem primary structure of Dicotyledons and Monocotyledons. Stem secondary structure of Dicotyledons and Gymnosperms. Heteroxylous and homoxylous wood. Functioning of the vascular cambium.

Root anatomy: root apex, root primary structure of Dicotyledons, Monocotyledons and Gymnosperms. Roots secondary structure of Dicotyledons.

Leaves: form, structure and function of the leaves of Dicotyledons, Monocotyledons and Gymnosperms. Gas exchanges between the leaf and the external environment and their regulation mechanisms. Functioning of stomata.


Seed and germination


Introduction to Pharmaceutical Botany: the concept of medicinal plant, drug, active principle, balsamic time.
Algae, Bryophytes, Pteridophytes: reproductive cycle
Algae: general information
Rhodophyta (Chondrus crispus and genus Gelidium cited), Chromophyta (notes: Phaeophyceae, Bacillariophyceae), Chlorophyta (notes: Chlorophyceae, Charophyceae)
Lichens: notes
Mosses: general information (Marchantia polymorpha and genus Mnium cited)
Rhyniophyta (Rhynia gwynne-vaughanii),
Psilophyta (Psilotum nudum),
Lycophyta (Lycopodium clavatum),
Spenophyta (Equisetum arvense),
Filicophyta (ferns)(Adiantum capilus-veneris, Dryopteris filix-max)
cited: Osmunda regalis, Polipodium vulgare, Phyllitis scolopendrium
Spermatophytes: taxonomy, importance and biology and of the seed.
Cycadophyta, general information (Cycas revoluta)
Ginkgophyta (Ginkgo biloba)
Conoferophyta, Coniferales
1. Pinaceae (Picea abies, Abies alba, genus Pinus, Larix decidua, Cedrus libani)
2. Cupressaceae (Cupressus sempervirens, Juniperus communis)
3. Taxaceae (Taxus baccata)
Gnetophyta, general informations and notes on the genera Ephedra, Gnetum, Welwitschia
Angiosperms: general information
A detailed knowledge about the discriminating characters and about the main species of the botanical families listed hereafter is firmly required. The species listed in brackets should also be studied in detail.
1. Ranunculaceae (genera Aconitum, Helleborus)
2. Papaveraceae (Papaver rhoeas, P. somniferum, Chelidonium majus)
3. Cannabaceae (Cannabis indica, Humulus lupulus)
4. Fagaceae (Fagus sylvatica, genus Quercus, Castanea sativa)
5. Salicaceae (Salix alba, Populus nigra)
Fabales: common characters
6. Mimosceae (ornamental species, Acacia senegal)
7. Caesalpinaceae (Ceratonia siliqua, Tamarindus indica, Cassia angustifolia)
8. Fabaceae (food, medicinal and fodder species and known species of the Italian flora; in detail Cytisus scoparius and Spartium junceum; Glycyrrhiza glabra cited)
9. Apiaceae (Pimpinella anisum, Conium maculatum)
10. Solanaceae (food species, deadly nightshade, henbane, stramonium)
11. Lamiaceae (Lavandula angustifolia)
12. Oleaceae (ornamental species, Olea europaea, Fraxinus excelsior, Fraxinus ornus)
13. Scrophulariaceae (Digitalis purpurea; genera Verbascum and Veronica cited)
14. Asteraceae (food, medicinal and ornamental species, in detail Artemisia absintium and Chamomilla recutita; Sylibum marianum, Arctium lappa, Taraxacum officinale, Arnica montana cited)
15. Aloaceae (Aloe barbadensis, Aloe ferox)
Prerequisites for admission
No prior knowledge is required.
Teaching methods
The course consists of 2 modules: Plant Biology and Pharmaceutical Botany for a total of 11 + 1 CFU.

Lectures and exercises
The course includes lectures and classroom exercises, with particular reference to plant anatomy, as well as field exercises frequently carried out at the Botanic Garden of Città Studi (Milan) and at the G.E. Ghirardi Botanic Garden (Toscolano Maderno, Bs), both annexed to the University of Milan. The hands-on method is used (touching with the hands, knowing through doing): the students become the architects of the lesson itself, researching, observing, using the 5 senses, drawing, recognizing, proposing and even planning. The products of this activity often become lessons given by the students themselves.

Exam simulations
During the course, exam simulations are provided as an important moment of comparison and verification of the knowledge acquired. They are scheduled at the end of each of the two modules of Plant Biology and Pharmaceutical Botany. Each of the students is given an exam topic to be carried out in a time agreed with the teacher. Students can consult their notes and textbook and work in groups. At the end of the test, the teacher makes the correction in the classroom.

Other educational proposal
Diverse educational proposals vary from year to year, from workshops (by example, the workshop "Making botany in the garden", realized in 2015) to itinerant exhibitions (by example, the exhibition "SeductionRepulsion: what plants don't say"). Each year, two days of study are organized in May at the G.E. Ghirardi Botanic Garden, entirely dedicated to medicinal plants, in occasion of the international event Fascination of Plant Day.
Every year the students participate to the congress organized by the CdL and dedicated to a medicinal species. In this context, the course owners are engaged in the realization of seminars on botanical and ethnobotanical issues (by example, the congress devoted to Matricaria chamomilla in 2018 and Cannabis sativa in 2019).
Teaching Resources
Maugini E., Maleci Bini L., Mariotti Lippi M. 2014. Botanica Farmaceutica, Piccin, Padova.
Leporatti M.L., Foddai S., Tommassini L. 2001. Testo atlante di anatomia vegetale e delle piante officinali. Piccin, Padova
Curricular lessons, seminar lessons, summary sheets and other educational materials are available on Ariel.
Assessment methods and Criteria
During the course, in itinere tests are scheduled, together with the exam tests.

In itinere test
It is proposed at the end of each of the 2 modules of the course. The test relating to the Plant Biology program during the period of interruption of the teaching activity (generally at the end of April), the test relating to the Pharmaceutical Botany program at mid-June.
This is a written test consisting of 30 multiple choice questions (4 answers are proposed), the first concerning the Plant Biology program, the second the Pharmaceutical Botany program.
The time available is 30 minutes. At the discretion of the teacher, an exercise test can be added, with an increase in time of up to 45 minutes. The test starting from 18 correct answers is considered passed. Passing the first test guarantees access to the second test relating to the Pharmaceutical Botany program.
The outcome of the first in itinere test is communicated directly by the teacher. Upon passing the second in itinere test, the overall result of the exam is recorded given by the average of the outcomes of the two in itinere tests.
An overall assessment is also made based on the student's participation in the lectures, exercises and proposed events. These evaluations are not penalizing for non-attending students, but have the aim of enhancing the active participation of students.

Exam test
7 exam sessions are scheduled between October 2019 and September 2020.
It is a written test consisting of 30 multiple choice questions (4 answers are proposed) concerning the programs of Plant Biology and Pharmaceutical Botany. The time available is 30 minutes. At the discretion of the teacher, an exercise test can be added, with an increase in time of up to 45 minutes. The test starting from 18 correct answers is considered passed.
BIO/15 - PHARMACEUTICAL BIOLOGY - University credits: 12
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 88 hours