Molecular plant breeding and Genetics

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The main goal of the course is to supply the students with knowledge about tools and strategies used in breeding programs, combining quantitative genetics and biotechnology to identify the genomic regions containing genes of interest. The effects of domestication and breeding on the genome of crops will be presented to have a wider overview about the challenges that modern breeding has to face.

After following this course, the students will have basic knowledge of the most recent molecular breeding approaches. They will be familiar with the available technologies to produce molecular markers and their application to linkage map construction, QTL mapping and in general to plant breeding. They will be familiar with the pros and cons of alternative strategies available to identify the genetic determinant controlling agronomic traits. Students will be able to evaluate the advantages and limitations of the different breeding strategies and select the most appropriate for specific goals.
Expected learning outcomes
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
In case the emergency phase continues, the lessons of the course will take place using the Microsoft Teams and Zoom platforms in synchronous mode.
In general, there will be no significant changes to the topics covered during the lessons. Regularly, there will be moments dedicated to answer any questions from students.
In addition, a blog or forum will be activated on Ariel's website where students can post questions or curiosities to which teachers will answer.
The exams will continue to be oral and it will take place using the Microsoft Teams platform.
Course syllabus
· Challenges of modern plant breeding and how the molecular tools could be used to improve and speed up breeding (Gianfranceschi L.)
· Origin of plant domestication and breeding. Consequences on the available genetic variability (Gianfranceschi L.)
· Overview of plant reproduction systems (Gregis V.)
· RNAi mechanisms related to plant improvement (Gregis V.)
· Epigenetics concepts for plant improvement (Gregis V.)
· Principles of population genetics selection, inbreeding and genetic drift (Gianfranceschi L.)
· Modern breeder's molecular tools: the evolution of molecular markers in the light of new high-throughput sequencing technologies (Gianfranceschi L.)
· Strategies and methods to construct high density linkage maps (Gianfranceschi L.)
· Modern approaches to QTL mapping (Gianfranceschi L.)
· Genome-Wide Association Studies to complement and integrate QTL mapping (Gianfranceschi L.)
· Crossing schemes to obtain breeding populations and discussion of their characteristics (Gianfranceschi L.)
· Experimental design used in breeding programs for the improvement and selection of crop species (Gianfranceschi L.)
Prerequisites for admission
A basic knowledge of genetics, molecular biology, botany and statistics is highly recommended.
Teaching methods
Teaching mode: Traditional lectures with powerpoint presentations, available to the students after the lecture through Ariel platform. Seminars from scientists working in plant breeding.
Attendance: highly recommended.
Teaching Resources
Copies of the slides projected in the classroom, references to scientific papers and reviews indicated during the course and other study material will be made available through the course website on the ARIEL platform of the University of Milano (
By no means this material replaces the lectures or a textbook. The material is made available only to registered students of the Degree Course in Molecular Biotechnology and Bioinformatics and should not be distributed to others.
Assessment methods and Criteria
There is a single final exam consisting in a discussion on topics presented during the course. Usually the discussion starts from the presentation of a scientific paper on topics of the course.
Examples of the examination test will be discussed during classes.
BIO/18 - GENETICS - University credits: 6
Lectures: 48 hours
Upon email request
5th floor, A building, Biosciences Dept.