Methods in plant genetics and biotechnology

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide students with basic and advanced concepts on the production, use and cultivation of transgenic plants and the derived plant products of industrial interest. The educational objective of the course is also to provide students with an overview of the techniques for manipulating genomes.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student will have learnt the fundamental principles underlying plant biotechnology and their application, and have the theoretical skills to identify autonomously appropriate molecular strategies that can be used to modify traits of different complexity in plants.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Classes will be held online via Microsoft Teams, synchronously or asynchronously. There will be weekly online sessions dedicated to student questions, discussion and insights on various topics. Recorded lessons will be made available on Ariel and on the MS Team group.

Written exams will be carried out in person with the possibility of taking the exam online (oral) for those who have reasonable justifications and are not able to attend in person.

The exam aims to:
- ascertain whether the course objectives in terms of knowledge and understanding have been met;
- ascertain the ability to apply knowledge through the discussion of the topics covered during classes;
- verify the appropriate use of scientific language relating to the field of genetics and the ability to present the topics in a clear and logical way, with the necessary links to the content of other courses of the degree course.
Course syllabus
· Introduction to plant biotechnology
· Origin of agriculture, domestication and green revolution
· Plant genetic improvement: concepts about selection, crossing, mutagenesis
· Genetically modified plants: breeding vs. genetic engineering
· Impact of biotechnology on society and the economy
· Methods of plant transformation and genome editing
· Plant transformations approaches (shotgun, Agrobacterium-mediated)
· DNA engineering for plant transformation: techniques and strategies
· Marker selection and reporter genes (their use and advantages)
· Alternative methods of transformations (e.g. chloroplast), advantages and disadvantages
· Molecular and genetic analysis of transgenic plants
· Identification and use of constitutive, inducible, tissue- and cell- specific promoters (in vivo screes via gene trap, enhancer trap).
· Silencing of the transgenes and implications
· Exploiting silencing mechanisms in plants (RNA interference)
· Definition of microRNA and their engineering
· Genome editing approaches and applications
· Transgenic plants for herbicide tolerance and resistance to insects
· Soya Roundup Ready
· Maize Bt
· Impact on agronomy and on the environment
· Transgenic plants for growth on marginal lands
· Drought tolerant plants
· Salt tolerant plants
· Phytoremediation for growth on polluted soils
Prerequisites for admission
A good level of understanding of Mendelian and molecular genetics is highly recommended.
Teaching methods
Lectures. Regular attendance and active participation during classes are strongly encouraged to improve the understanding of the topic. Lectures will be made available before class to facilitate the discussion
Teaching Resources
Teaching slides presented will be provided during the course. References to original research papers/reviews for further reading will be highlighted.
Suggested textbook: " Biotecnologie e Genomica delle Piante" Rosa Rao e Antonietta Leone, Ed. Idelson-Gnocchi"
Assessment methods and Criteria
Learning assessment will be through a written exam at the end of the course.
Exams typically include open questions (20%), charts and graphs to complete (10%) and multiple choices tests (70%). These components will be weighted so that open question and graphical problems will form approximately 30% of the final grade of the exam.
BIO/18 - GENETICS - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours