Soil-Plant interactions: nutrients and pollutants in the agricultural system

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course provides knowledge about the interactions between plants and soil components in the rhizosphere environment. The chemical and biological mechanisms that influence the availability of nutrients in the soil and the responses of plants to different environmental conditions are also presented and discussed.
Furthermore, the course provides knowledge on the impact of organic and inorganic pollutants on the soil-plant system with particular attention to the quality and safety of crop production.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student will have:
- knowledge of physical, chemical and biological processes that control the rhizosphere environment, in degraded, polluted or fertile soils;
- biochemical and physiological knowledge of soil-plant relationships in the response to inorganic and organic pollutants;
- critical skills regarding environmental protection issues in agro-environmental contexts.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
The first part of the course provides basic knowledge on the processes that control nutrient transfer from the solid to the liquid phase and towards the plant roots. Main exogenous and endogenous factors regulating root growth and absorption activity are examined, as well as the soil-roots interfaces, with particular attention to nutrient availability and rhizodeposition under nutritional and environmental stresses, and in polluted soils.
Major constraints to plant growth, like acidity, waterlogging, salinity, drought, and air, water and soil poor quality are described and plant biochemical and physiological responses to these stresses are examined.
The last part gives information about food crop quality and security in terms of residues of pesticides and of organic and inorganic contaminants; the most important strategies for the reduction of these contaminants are examined.
A case study coming from the teacher experiences or from recent scientific papers are examined in detail and discussed in the last lessons of the course.

The course can be divided in the following topics:

- Plant Root: main exogenous factors regulating growth and uptake activity Soil : Basic processes controlling nutrient release from the solid phase. Nutrient transfer towards roots - 1CFU - P. Zaccheo
- The rhizosphere: chemical and biological properties in soil and in soil under stress - 1CFU - P. Zaccheo
- The rhizosphere: biochemical and physiological activities and responses to stress - 1CFU - L. Espen
- Low fertility soils (acidic, waterlogged, drought, organic and inorganic contaminated, with poor quality water - 1CFU - P. Zaccheo
- Biochemical and physiological responses of plant grown in low fertile soils - 1CFU - L. Espen
- Quality and security of food crops affected by organic and inorganic residues and strategies of mitigation - 1CFU - L. Espen
Prerequisites for admission
The course requires knowledge of both plant biochemistry and soil chemistry.
Teaching methods
Teaching Resources
Some chapters of the following texts:
- Marschner's Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants (2011). 3rd Edition - Elsevier/Academic Pres, ISBN: 9780123849052
- Sequi, Ciavatta, Miano eds. Fondamenti di Chimica del Suolo, Patron 2017, ISBN 9788855533621
Chakraborty, B., Chakraborty, U. Abiotic stresses in crop plants, Publisher: CABI;Boston, 2015. ISBN: 178064373X,978-1-78064-373-1
- Educational material projected for the lesson and made available to the student on the ARIEL website.
- Articles provided by the teacher.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The learning shall be carried out by means of an oral interview. It is structured in 4 questions on the different subjects of the course.
For the evaluation are considered different aspects, such as the accuracy of the response, the terminology used, the level of depth of the answer and the ability of the student to elaborate the knowledge acquired in an application logic.
AGR/13 - AGRICULTURAL CHEMISTRY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
On Fridays from 9.00 to 12.00 or by appointment.
At the office or via MS Teams.
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in my office