Chemistry of Natural Processes and Technologies for the Environment

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course will provide students with a basic understanding of the chemical fundamentals of the organic natural products and of their role as biologically active compounds in the interrelationship among living organisms to facilitate their communication in and with the environment.
This multidisciplinary course is focused on the impact of natural products and xenobiotics in the context of human and animal health, nutrition and agroecology.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, the student will acquire a broad knowledge of the chemistry of life in terms of species adaptation to the environment. He/she will also acquire the basis of the application of technologies for the environment and the impact they have on health, nutrition and agroecology.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
'More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/22 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation'
Course syllabus
The chemistry of life.
The plant and its biochemical adaptation to the environment.
Primary metabolism. Secondary metabolism and functional compounds (isoprenoid, phenolics, alkaloids)
The co-evolutionary arms race: plant defense and animal response.
Plant toxins and their effects on animals. Insect feeding preferences.
Animal pheromones and defense substances.
Biochemical interactions between higher plants.
Higher plants-lower plant interactions: phytoalexins and phytotoxins.
Flavors and natural dyes. Conversion and transformations in the environment.
Green analytical chemistry with special emphasis on environmentally friendly sample preparation techniques; biotransformation.
Principles, instrumentations and analytical applications of techniques for environment monitoring. Spectroscopy: the electromagnetic spectrum, interaction between radiation and matter, chemical structure and absorption of radiation. Lambert-Beer's law. Spectroscopy methods: UV and IR, atomic absorption and ICP-MS. Basics of electrochemical and electroanalytical techniques. Chromatography (gas-solid, liquid-solid, liquid-liquid)
Basics of remediation technologies for cleaning up contaminated sites. Introductory aspects, amendments, and their chemistry. Soil injection techniques. Anaerobic oxidation, anaerobic bioreactors, biowalls, in-situ chemical reduction, permeable reactive barrier. Soil, water, groundwater, and aquifer types. Groundwater mobility, definition of hydrological parameter and drawdown methods for aquifer testing. Site contamination assessment, contamination types and sources, environmental sampling and investigation. Basics and general aspects of conceptual site modelling. Generalities of the main organic and inorganic contaminants of concern. VOCs and SVOCs, aromatics and chlorinated solvents, pesticides, PCBs, dioxins, PFOS, PFOA, fuels, main toxic heavy metals. Mass spectrometry tools for contaminants monitoring. Main ion source and detector types. Examples of contaminants mass spectra.
Prerequisites for admission
No specific prior knowledge additional to that required to register to the graduation course is needed (basic chemical courses).
Teaching methods
Classroom lessons
Teaching Resources
J.B. Harborne. Introduction to ecological biochemistry, 2014 Elsevier

Gerd‐Joachim Krauss, Dietrich H. Nies Ecological Biochemistry: Environmental and Interspecies Interactions, 2014 Wiley

O. Sterner Chemistry, Health and Environment, 2nd edition, 2010 Wiley.
James R. Hanson. Natural Products. The secondary metabolites. The Royal Society of Chemistry 2003

Environmental site assessment and remediation. CRC Press. Edited by Yue Rong. 2018 Taylor and Francis Group (available for download at the online UniMI Library System)

S. Manahan. Environmental Chemistry. 10th edition CRC Press

Literature and didactical material provided during classrooms
Assessment methods and Criteria
Oral exam (20 min approximately). Students will be asked to discuss a personal written report on the analysis of a case selected from the topics discussed during the classroom lessons
CHIM/06 - ORGANIC CHEMISTRY - University credits: 0
Lessons: 64 hours