Developmental biology and genetics

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The objective of the course is to provide a deep understanding of the of the genetic and molecular mechanisms controlling plant and animal development. By analyzing the experimental data presented in research papers and reviews from the iliterature, the students will acquire the capability to discuss developmental processes and to compare different model organisms.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student will
- gain a strong theoretical background in important genetic/molecular mechanisms controlling plant and animal development;
- learn various experimental approaches in different model organisms, including cutting-edge technologies.
- be able to critically evaluate experimental data.
- be able to present a developmental biology topic to a scientific audience (other students and researchers)
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
The lectures and seminars will be done using zoom or others platform. All the lectures will be recorded and available on Ariel.
Course syllabus
The model organisms most commonly used in Developmental Genetics and Biology will be presented.
Differentiation and morphogenesis processes will be analyzed at a genetic and molecular level, in order to understand how cells of the same organism can differentiate into distinct cell types and organize into complex structures.
Significant examples of animal development and plant development will be discussed, with a particular emphasis on the zebrafish and Arabidobpsis model systems, respectively.

Major signaling pathways with multiple roles in developmental processes in animals as well as in human pathological conditions will be discussed. Emphasis will be given to the role of RNA localization and translation in development, starting from classical examples in Drosophila development and pointing to dysfunctional processes in human diseases.
An overview of the impact of microRNAs on animal developmental processes will be given, starting from their discovery in C.elegans and pointing to their relevance for human diseases. A particular emphasis will be given to the zebrafish model system and the various genetic tools, which have been used in this organism to study development and to model human diseases.
Examples of Plant developmental mechanisms will be discussed with the students. In particular the course will focus on genetic and molecular control of organogenesis. Furthermore, some example of developmental regulation mediated by long non-coding RNAs and microRNAs, at transcriptional and post-transcriptional level will be discussed.
Prerequisites for admission
A good basic knowledge of genetics, molecular biology, and developmental biology is required.
Teaching methods
Lessons will be based on powerpoint presentations and interactive discussions. Students will be stimulated to critically analyze experimental data from original papers and draw conclusions. Experts in the field of developmental biology and genetics will be invited to cover specific aspects of the course.
Teaching Resources
Powerpoint presentations and lists of reference papers/book chapters will be made available through the Ariel website. Students with little previous knowledge of animal developmental biology are encouraged to use a basic textbook (like Scott F. Gilbert, Developmental biology, Sinauer Associates, Inc., 9th edition) as a starting reference point. Students without or with little knowledge of plant biology and development will get 5 updated reviews about the subject to implement their knowledge.
It is important to stress that the course is mainly based on recent scientific literature in the field (relevant original papers and review articles will be listed on the Ariel webpage).
Assessment methods and Criteria
Students will undergo an oral examination for the animal and plant developmental biology and genetics
The oral examination for the animal developmental biology and genetics part of the course will be based on the analysis of several slides from the power point presentations, as a starting point to assess the acquired knowledge on different aspects of the program and the ability to critically interpret experimental data as well as to make links between different topics and/or model systems. The oral examination for the plant developmental biology and genetic part of the course will include a poster presentation on a selected topic and oral exam on a couple of questions on the topics presented during the course.
A final mark will be given, taking into account the results achieved in both part of the exam.
BIO/18 - GENETICS - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours