Advanced Plant Cell Biotechnology

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
BIO/04 BIO/18
Learning objectives
The aim of the course is to discuss the criteria and the methods to design or improve a biotechnological process exploiting plant cells or whole plants to produce biomass or substances of industrial or environmental relevance (e.g. biofuels, oils, detergents, vitamins, starch, sugars, biodegradable polymers). An 'on-site' visit to at least one company or research centre is envisaged to make the students aware about plant biotechnology outside the academic environment.
The course is ideally linked to those dealing with functional genomics and other "-omic" technologies, plant breeding, molecular enzymology, bioinformatics and data analysis.
Expected learning outcomes
Upon completing this course, students will acquire substantial knowledge on metabolic fluxes, on strategies that can be used to modify yield and on the tools available in plant biotechnology to achieve the objectives.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Specific information on the delivery modes of training for the academic year 2021/22 shall be provided in the coming months, depending on the evolution of the public health situation.
Course syllabus
The part taught by dr. Morandini will deal with two fundamental questions of metabolic engineering: 1) which factors control metabolic fluxes and intermediate concentrations and 2) which strategies /targets work better to modify the yields in a certain product. In order to tackle the questions, we shall make use of the tools provided by the Metabolic Control Analysis theory (elasticity, flux and concentration control coefficients). We shall discuss the interplay of supply and demand of metabolic intermediates as well as the evidence in favour of the so-called 'parallel activation' to increase fluxes and the implications for manipulation strategies. Several case studies (and the relative successes and failures) of plant biotechnology will be discussed, among which the manipulation of starches, sugars, lipids, vitamins, natural pesticides, amino acids, and the inactivation of allergens and toxins.
Prerequisites for admission
A substantial background in basic biochemistry, genetics and functional genomics, as normally gained in the bachelor curriculum, is highly recommended. Good mastering of plant biochemistry is helpful but not an absolute requirement.
Teaching methods
Teaching Mode: classroom lectures (in English) supported by projected material with open discussions on experimental design, data analysis and specific case studies.
Attendance: highly recommended.
Teaching Resources
Teaching material (ppt files), background material and key papers are made available through the Ariel website.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The examination is oral and consists of several questions on each section of the program. In addition students are offered the possibility to present and discuss a research article selected from a list provided by the teachers on topics relevant to the syllabus. The grade will result from the joint evaluation of each candidate by the two instructors. Examples of the examination test/questions are discussed during classes. The two parts of the exam can be sustained separately.
BIO/04 - PLANT PHYSIOLOGY - University credits: 0
BIO/18 - GENETICS - University credits: 0
Lectures: 48 hours
Please contact me by email to fix an appointment
via Celoria 26, Tower C, floor n.3
Upon appointment
V floor Tower A, Via Celoria 26