Developmental biology

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
BIO/01 BIO/06
Learning objectives
The course will introduce the student to the most important aspects of animal and plant developmental biology from fertilization to morphogenesis and the use of different model organisms.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, the student will acquire:
- the correct terminology related to the development of animal and plant organisms;
- the main genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms that determine animal and plant development;
the main cellular and molecular techniques and the model organisms used in the study of animal and plant developmental biology
Course syllabus and organization

A - L

Lesson period
First semester
The lectures will be given on ZOOm or Microsoft TEAMS platform. The lectures will be recordered and available on Ariel.
On Ariel will be available all the material needed to prepare the examination.
Course syllabus
Animal developmental biology:
- From fertilized egg to the individual: developmental genetic and epigenetic program.
- Tissue differentiation and stem cells.
- Animal models used in developmental biology.
- Fertilization.
- Developmental phases: segmentation, gastrulation, organogenesis, morphogenesis.
- Body axis formation: antero-posterior and dorso-ventral development.
- Induction: insights on embryonic cell-cell communication.
- Vertebrate limb development.
- Experimental embryology: normal and abnormal development.
Plant developmental biology:
- Differences and similarities between plant and animal development
- Plant model systems
- Developmental drivers: asymmetric cell division, morphogenic gradients and transcriptional regulation
- Embryo development
- Development and maintenance of the shoot apical meristem
- Development of the root apical meristem
- Positioning of lateral organs on the main stem and acquisition of leaf identity and polarity
- Floral transition in response to seasonal cues (cold and photoperiod)
- Flower development
Prerequisites for admission
A basic knowledge of plant and animal biology is suggested as well as genetics and molecular biology.
Teaching methods
All the subjects will be presented by power point and will be discussed with the students.
Teaching Resources
Slides and videos used during the lessons will be available in Ariel.
Suggested text books. S.F. Gilbert, Biologia dello sviluppo. Zanichelli; J. M. W. Slack, Fondamenti di Biologia dello sviluppo, Zanichelli; Le Moigne-Foucrier, M.M. Altamura, S. Biondi, L. Colombo, F. Guzzo. Elementi di Biologia dello sviluppo delle piante Ed. Edises.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Written exam with open questions related to both Animal and Plant Developmental Biology. The questions will be on the subject presented and discussed in the frame of the course. Both sections need to be completed.
Lessons: 48 hours

M - Z

Lesson period
First semester
The lectures will be held remotely via the Teams and Ariel platforms: according the topic and the complexity of it, the lectures will be held either in synchronous mode (live) with the students or in asynchronous mode by uploading on Ariel the lectures as power point presentation with audio
Course syllabus
Animal Developmental Biology
An introduction to Developmental Biology: from egg to embryo. Cellular and molecular techniques for the study of development. Egg and sperm cells: structure of gametes and gametogenesis. Fertilization: species-specific interaction, cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating sperm-egg interaction. Embryonic development: maternal inheritance, cleavage, gastrulation and outlines of organogenesis. The three germ layers: ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. Morphogenesis of the Central Nervous System. Regeneration.
Animal models: Drosophila, Zebrafish, Xenopus, Chick and Mouse. Embryonic axes: the lesson from the Drosophila embryo.
The paradigm of differential gene expression. Homeobox genes and body plan. Stem Cells. Medical Embryology.

Plant Developmental biology:
The differences and similarities between Plant and animal developmental biology; Plant model organisms; Differentiation mechanisms: asymmetric cell divisions, transcriptional regulation and morphogen gradients; Fertilization (formation of male and female gametes - double fertilization process); Embryo development (embryogenesis); Phytohormones; Apical meristem; Radical meristem; Axillary meristems and lateral organ development (primordial position and morphology); Interactions between plant and environment; examples of organogenesis: the root and the flower.
Prerequisites for admission
It is recommended to have acquired basic skills in cellular and molecular biology
Teaching methods
Teaching method based on interactive frontal lessons supported by projected material (slides as power point presentations). Students will be stimulated to actively participate in the lesson / discussion to improve their critical skills, analyzing the literature and communicating the concepts in appropriate way. Frequency mode: strongly recommended
Teaching Resources
Slides of the lectures in the Ariel website of the teacher

Gilbert SF Developmental Biology Zanichelli
Altamura et al., Elementi di Biologia dello Sviluppo delle piante Edises
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of a written assignment with open and multiple choice questions. The student will also be given the opportunity to improve the final score with a subsequent oral interview. The exam aims to evaluate the knowledge acquired and the student's ability to solve biological problems based on the topics covered in the course.
Lessons: 48 hours
On appointment (email)
Torre C 7th floor