Soil and plant science

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The Course aimed to provide knowledge of what is soil and to give basic principles of plant biochemistry and physiology.
1. The aim of the Soil Teaching Unit is to introduce students to theorical and practical knowledge of soil composition and characteristics and of the main physical, chemical and biological processes influencing crop production and quality.
2. The aim of the Plant Teaching Unit is the knowledge of biochemical and physiological processes and the plant adaptive responses to the environment in order to understand the mechanisms involved in crop plant production.
Expected learning outcomes
1. Understanding the importance of soil for crop production and environmental protection. Ability to choose the specific parameters, to individuate the specific analytical techniques and to make correct interpretations of soil analysis.
2. Knowledge of the mechanisms involved in the regulation of energy and matter transformation in plants. Knowledge of basic biochemical and physiological processes determining crop plant production. Criteria and methods for preliminary evaluation of the effects of environmental and stress conditions on plant crop production.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
Modulo Scienza del Suolo:
Frontal lessons (5 CFU) will be delivered remotely on the Microsoft Teams platform. The class access code is available on the Ariel website of the course. Lessons can be followed both in synchrony on the basis of the first semester timetable and asynchronously because they will be recorded and left available to students on the same platform and on Ariel platform.
Practical experiences (1CFU) will be as follow:
Lab activities: a 4 h activity will be carried out at the didactic laboratory in via Mangiagalli 25. Turns will be planned according to the number of registered students. If necessary, students will be able to attend the lab activities remotely on the Microsoft Teams platform. 4 hours videos and ppt will be delivered remotely on Ariel platform.
Classroom activities: Two 2h-meetings will be planned, in compliance with the rules of sanitary spacing. They will be registered and left available to students on Microsoft Teams and on Ariel platform.
Exams will be performed online or in presence depending on the rules stated by the University and written exams may be changed into oral exams on Microsoft Teams.

Modulo Biochimica e Fisiologia vegetale:
Lectures (5.5 CFU): lessons may be followed on Microsoft Team (MT) platform, in synchronous on the basis of the or in asynchronous (recording of the lessons in sync, available on MT platform).
Classroom exercises (0.5 CFU): meetings/exercises on MT platform aimed at clarifying and deepening topics of the course programme.
Meetings in presence (4 hours): two meetings in presence are foreseen organized as classroom exercises. For each meeting one half of the students will be present in classroom and the other half will follow in sync; the alternation of the student groups in presence will be ensured.
Type of exams can be modified depending on the rules stated by the University and the two written tests may be changed into a final oral exam on Microsoft Teams.

The program and the reference material for both Units will not change.
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of the basic concepts of Botany and General, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry
Assessment methods and Criteria
There will be two separate exams for the two units.
Modulo Scienza del Suolo:
The exam consists in a 2 h lasting written test with 10 closed questions, 4 open questions and a soil analysis to be commented (it is allowed the use of a calculator and of the Soil Analysys Factsheet available on Ariel website.
The evaluation is expressed by a mark out of thirty e will be published on Ariel website.

Modulo Biochimica e Fisiologia vegetale:
Exam will consist in two written tests (one at the middle and the other at the end of the course). Each test includes: 23 closed-ended questions (verification of learning notions) + 4 open-ended questions (verification of synthesis skills) + 1 open-ended question that requires an extensive dissertation on a topic of the course programme (verification of the ability to set up a scientific theme). The final score of the Plant Science module, out of thirty, takes into account both tests and will be communicated in Ariel

The final score of the whole course (Soil and Plant Science) will be the mean of the score obtained in the single modules.
Scienza del suolo
Course syllabus
The course presents basic concepts of soil science, with special attention to chemical, physical and biological processes that influence crop production and quality.
What is a soil? Mineral and organic constituents. Soil as an open system: profile formation, mass transfer into air and water. Soil as a multicomponent system: gaseous, solid and liquid phases. Soil minerals: parents materials and weathering products. Clays and oxides. (1CFU) Soil organic matter: elemental composition, plant derived biomolecules, humic substances. Types of humus. Carbon cycle. (1CFU)
How to describe soil ? Physical properties: texture, structure, real and bulk density, porosity. The interfacial relationship: adsorption and exchange. Surface charges, double layer theory, exchange reactions. Cation and anion exchange. Base saturation. Soil acidity: what is pH and how it is measured? Chemistry of acid soils and correction of soil acidity: lime requirement. Calcareous soils: effects on nutrient phytoavailability. Saline and sodic soils. (2 CFU)
Soil and nutrients. Biogeochemistry of soil nitrogen, and of soil phosphorus. The bioavailability concept. Evaluation of fertility status by soil analysis (1 CFU).
Practices in laboratory: (0.5 CFU)
Interpretation of soil test results: practises in classroom (0.5 CFU).
Teaching methods
The course consists of frontal teaching (5 CFU), lab activities (0.5 CFU) and classroom activities (0.5 CFU).
Attendance is optional, although highly recommended, especially at the practical activities.
Teaching Resources
Course materials are available at
Textbooks: P. Sequi, C. Ciavatta e T. Miano (2017) Fondamenti di chimica del suolo
Pietro Violante (2013) Chimica e fertilità del suolo Il Sole 24 Ore Edagricole.
Biochimica e fisiologia vegetale
Course syllabus
Bioenergetics and thermodynamics: chemical and electrochemical potentials. Kinetics of enzymatic catalysis (1 CFU). Carbon metabolism: glycolysis and fermentation, Krebs cycle, electron flux and oxidative phosphorylation (1 CFU). Photosynthesis: photosystems, photosynthetic electron flux and photophosphorylation. Carbon assimilation (C3, C4), ecophysiology of photosynthesis, carbon allocation (1 CFU). Water physiology: water potential, osmosis and cell growth, water absorption by the root, xylem and phloem transport, transpiration, regulation of stomata opening, water balance and plant adaptation to water stress (1 CFU). Mineral nutrition: thermodynamics and kinetics of transmembrane solute transport (1 CFU). Nitrate and sulfate assimilation. Phloem transport, sink and source relationship. Classroom exercises (1 CFU)
Teaching methods
Frontal lessons
Teaching Resources
Teaching material is available for students at the
Recommended textbooks: 1 - Lehninger A.L., Nelson D.L., Cox M.M. Introduzione alla biochimica. Ed. Zanichelli, Bologna. 2 - Taiz L., Zeiger E. Elementi di Fisiologia Vegetale. Ed. Piccin Padova
Other textbooks: 1- N. Rascio et al. "Elementi di Fisiologia Vegetale", EdiSES, Bologna, 2012. 2 - Alpi A., Pupillo P, Rigano C. Fisiologia delle Piante. EdiSES, Bologna.
Biochimica e fisiologia vegetale
AGR/13 - AGRICULTURAL CHEMISTRY - University credits: 6
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Negrini Noemi
Scienza del suolo
AGR/13 - AGRICULTURAL CHEMISTRY - University credits: 6
Laboratories: 16 hours
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Zaccheo Patrizia
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