Plant as biofactories

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
To acquire the knowledge necessary to apply the biotechniques to the metabolic engineering of plants; to develop base competencies on the management of scientific projects in the agro-sciences fields.
Expected learning outcomes
The student will develop the capability to plan and implement biotechnological experiments for the exploitation of plants in metabolic engineering related projects. The range of possible projects will span from vaccines production to metabolic pathways modification.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
We will continue to monitor the health situation related to the COVID emergency. If necessary, the lectures will be rescheduled in time and you will be provided with all the necessary information promptly.
Course syllabus
Plant genetic variability: from plant domestication to biotech; the biotechnologist as a trait-d'union between plant genetic improvement, "omics" sciences and the follow-up of the green revolution. Metabolic engineering (ME): aims, scope and pitfalls; molecular techniques used in ME; metabolic partitioning and ME; ME targets. Hints of ME business. Plant molecular Pharming (PMF): the plant system and optimization; methods used in PMF; PMF examples (antibodies, vaccines, VLPs, other pharmaceutical proteins); methods to extract and purify heterologous proteins produced in planta. Hints of PMF business. Plant nutritional properties improvement: ME applied to nutritional properties; examples: phytonutrients; carotenoids; vitamins; amminoacids and flavors and their improvement in planta. Hints of business. Biotech frontiers: artificial phosynthesis; synthetic biology; nitrogen use efficiency improvement; biotech strategies for climate change challenges. Depending on the interaction with the students, the program may be slightly different.
Prerequisites for admission
Your capacity to attend and understand the course will be greatly facilitated if you'll master the following topics:
-biochemistry and plant physiology -genomics
-genetics and plant breeding.
-water physiology and molecular biology in the plant and its transport (i.e. water potential etc.)
-plant tolerance to stresses (abiotic and biotic)
-signal transduction and signaling cascades-fundamentals in primary and secondary metabolism
-fundamentals in cell trafficking
-molecular maps and their use in mapping traits of biotech interest
-candidate gene strategies -forward and reverse genetics
-gene silencing and applications -basics in mapping, including QTL mapping PROTEOMICS
-post-translational control of proteins: glycosylation and other protein modifications
-cloning techniques
-vectors and constructs
-transcription factors: molecular structure and cellular functions.
Teaching methods
Lectures; active learning; interactive didactic workshops
Teaching Resources
Pdf files of the lectures, available on ARIEL platform; papers and textbooks (provided by the teacher), additional online resources.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The student is offered to take the exam in an oral or written form. The written exam will be offered only if allowed by current health regulations. In general, written form requires at least 4 enrolled students. It is composed of 6 questions (open) and lasts for 2 hours. The oral exam is composed of 6 questions (during 30 minutes), the first of which is a choice of the student.
AGR/07 - AGRICULTURAL GENETICS - University credits: 6
Laboratories: 16 hours
Lessons: 40 hours