Plant Biology and Physiology

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
BIO/01 BIO/04 BIO/18
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide students with the basic knowledge on the structures, the organization, the main functions of plant cells, tissues and organisms, also taking into consideration the morphological and functional diversity existing in the plant world. The course therefore provides a complete view of the structure-function relationship of plants. Laboratory activities allow students to acquire the basics of some methods widely used in plant biotechnology.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, students will know the plant cell, its main metabolic cycles, plant tissues and the relationships existing between the structures of tissues and organs and the function they must carry out.
The student will have acquired the ability to describe plant structures, using the correct terminology, will be able to discuss the functioning of a cell and will be able to apply this knowledge in the context of green biotechnologies.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Laboratory exercises are converted into online and home activities. The students, in groups of three, choose a topic related to plant biotechnology to be described in-depth. A series of topics is proposed by the teachers, but the students are free (and also encouraged) to propose different topics and discuss them with the teachers. Based on their choice, the various groups are given 2-3 scientific papers related to the topic of interest. The groups elaborate a synthesis of the papers, following the logic of a predisposed exercise form.
The work progression is followed by means of several online meetings between each individual group and the teachers in which the various work phases and difficulties are discussed.
Course syllabus
Plant Biology
The plant cell and its main features: vacuole, cell wall, plastids
Osmosis, turgor pressure and the importance of the cell wall
Histology: the plant tissues. Angiosperm anatomy: stem, leaves, roots
Flowers and inflorescences
Sexual reproduction: haplodiplontic life cycle, alternation of generations
Seeds: anatomy, germination, dispersion. Fruits: anatomy, dispersion
Asexual reproduction and apomixis
Plant hormones: auxin, cytokinins, gibberellins, ethylene and abscisic acid
Phototropism and gravitropism
Plant-environment interactions: seasonal flowering and photoperiodism
Plant domestication and varietal improvement
Plant Physiology
Photosynthesis and the structure of the photosynthetic apparatus; synthesis of ATP and NADPH and their role in the Calvin and photorespiratory cycle; C4 and CAM cycles
Cell-to-cell and across membrane transport
Nernst equation, pumps, channels and transporters. Active and passive transport
Apoplast and symplast; water potential and transport across the cell and in the plant
Cohesion-adhesion-tension theory and transpiration. Transport in the phloem: content and mechanisms
Stomata opening and abscisic acid
Starch and sucrose synthesis
Absorption, transport and assimilation of nutrients, nitrogenous compounds in particular
Prerequisites for admission
Cell Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry
Teaching methods
Teaching language: Italian
Lectures are supported by powerpoint slides, in order to create a logical thread helped by data, formulas, images and videos.

The laboratory associated to the course will require about 16 hours and cover three topics:
1. observation of cell structures and plant tissues with a microscope
2. in vitro cultures
3. observation of alterations of shape or function of mutagenized plants. Observations will be facilitated by a stereomicroscope.
Teaching Resources
Plant Biology Raven Biology of Plants, Eighth Edition by Ray Evert, Susan Eichhorn, publ. Freeman, alternatively
Botanica Generale e Diversità Vegetale, G. Pasqua, G. Abbate, C. Forni, IV edizione Ed. Piccin
Plant Physiology: AAVV. (2012) Elementi di fisiologia vegetale (a cura di Nicoletta Rascio)
Assessment methods and Criteria
Oral exam - the exam aims to assess knowledge of the topics discussed during the course and understanding of the relationship between structure and function of plants
BIO/01 - GENERAL BOTANY - University credits: 0
BIO/04 - PLANT PHYSIOLOGY - University credits: 0
BIO/18 - GENETICS - University credits: 0
Single bench laboratory practical: 16 hours
Lessons: 56 hours
Please contact me by email to fix an appointment
via Celoria 26, Tower C, floor n.3