Novel approaches in plant protection are revolutionizing the plant protection market. Indeed, major technical advances are revolutionizing the ability to understand the process of pathogenicity and pathogen adaptation in agricultural systems. The goal of the course is to acquire knowledge necessary to understand, plan, and carry out molecular plant pathology research. The course will focus on brand new research approaches and the related technologies required for addressing open questions in plant pathology. The focus will be on major worldwide fungal and bacterial plant pathogens as well biocontrol agents used in agriculture.
Expected learning outcomes
The students will learn how to select and apply the methodologies to be used in molecular plant pathology as well as how to extrapolate key information from scientific papers. It is expected that at the end of the course the student will be able to 1) formulate hypothesis on the most appropriate experimental paths to be used to solve specific research questions in molecular plant pathology, 2) Develop theoretically a research plan focused on solving issues related to plant pathology based on the molecular background acquired.
Lesson period: First semester
(In case of multiple editions, please check the period, as it may vary)
Biobased products are becoming part of plant protection portfolio. Mechanisms involved in the plant pathogen interaction and in biocontrol strategies are fundamental for guiding the development of novel, safe and effective biobased products. The goal of the course is to acquire knowledge necessary to understand, plan, and carry out molecular plant pathology research aimed at deciphering the molecular machanisms occurring when a pathogen is infecting a plant. The course will focus on brand new research approaches and the related technologies required for addressing open questions in plant pathology. The focus will be on major worldwide fungal and bacterial plant pathogens as well biocontrol agents used in agriculture. Perspectives for industrial development of products based on the molecular mechanisms discovered will be also discussed. The course will address the following topics - Open questions in plant pathology - Recognition (factors determining recognition of the host and neighbours) - Change, change, change (plasticity, genomes and virulence) - The role of external molecules (biocides) - Communication (among cells) and the role of secondary metabolism
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of cell biology, plant pathology and microbiology are important prerequisites. In particular cell structure, mechanisms of cell replication, mechanisms of pathogenicity on plants and classical microbiological knowledge are important prerequisites. Future students are welcome to contact the teacher to obtain indications about texts and bibliographic references that can be studied to fill possible knowledge gaps.
The course is composed of 1) frontal lessons (2 CFU) that address some of the key questions for the disciplines using as reference key scientific papers and reviews and; 2) practical laboratory activities (2 CFU) which focus on real experimental questions using both laboratory facilities and bioinformatics facilities. In the practical part students are required to answer to small research questions by actively developing experimental strategies, learning the use of dedicated bioinformatic techniques as well as learning key laboratory skills.
The material for the course includes slides used during the lessons and scientific articles that serves as reference for the theory of the discipline. Articles and slides are available on Ariel platform
Assessment methods and Criteria
Two exam modalities are possible. The first type is composed of two parts: 1) a written test which includes approximately 10-15 multiple selection questions for a maximum time of 10 minutes based on the theoretical lessons 2) an oral question aimed to verify the ability of the student to reflect and elaborate on the possible experimental path that can be followed to address specific research questions within the discipline. The length of the overall exam does not exceed the 20 minutes. The student should therefore show the comprehension of the main theoretical aspects of the discipline and the ability to design experimental path in order to address a scientific question within the discipline. The second option for the final exam can be selected (optionally) by the students participating to all the laboratory activities. In this case the exam is a written critical summary of the work carried out during the course with the modalities presented during the laboratory activities. The report will be judged for its comprehensiveness and for the precision and quality of data reporting.