Foods resources

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
BIO/01 BIO/05
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide an overview of the main food sources of plant origin. In the first part of the course, Prof. Ezquer will provide a historical, evolutionary, and multidisciplinary overview of the main technologies used in agriculture for the genetic improvement of agro-food resources starting from the domestication process. For the animal part (Prof. Polidori), the course aims to provide an overview of the main food sources of animal origin, comparing different dietary regimes. Differences from the point of view of health, environmental sustainability and ethical implications of different production systems will be discussed.
Expected learning outcomes
By the end of the course, students will have acquired basic knowledge about traditional breeding and genetic engineering techniques used for the nutritional improvement of seeds and fruits of crops of interest, from cereals to some horticultural crops, and an overview of the main food sources of agricultural origin, the methods of cultivation (intensive, biologic, and organic). In addition, they will have acquired basic knowledge about the regulations and legislation related to the registration of new varieties, both GMO and non-GMO. Finally, they will have acquired knowledge about the main food sources of animal origin, different dietary regimes, differences from the point of view of health, environmental sustainability, and the ethical implications of different production systems.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/2022, will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Course syllabus
Part 1
History of plant domestication and green revolution
Genetic improvement of plants; classic methods, mutagenesis and cross-breeding
Methods of plant genetic transformation: agrobacterium and biolistics - technical aspects
Genetic engineering for qualitative and nutritional improvement of seeds and fruits.
Some examples of the "first generation" genetically modified organisms.
Classical and modern agriculture: the main crops and different cultivation methods.
Seeds and fruits: anatomical-morphological characteristics and nutritional value.
Nutritional improvement of seeds and fruits.
Regulation of registration of new varieties, the question of GMOs.

Part 2
The history of the animal domestication.
The differences between wild and domestic animals.
Fisheries and aquaculture.
Possible strategies to improve the quality of foods of animal origin.
Environmental impact of various dietary patterns.
Apiculture and derived products for human nutrition.
Animal welfare.
Alternative protein sources to meat: potential of insects as food and feed.
Prerequisites for admission
The student must have a solid background in cell biology, plant anatomy, botany, animal biology, zoology, molecular biology and genetics.
Teaching methods
Course delivery method based on lectures supported by projected material.
Teaching Resources
Reference material
The material includes the slides, videos shown during the course and scientific articles that will be distributed by the lecturers. The slides of the course do not constitute sufficient material for the preparation of the exam; it is therefore necessary to combine them with notes taken during the lectures. The course will be likely integrated by specific seminars and the discussion of pertinent scientific articles.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The examination consists of a written test with open-ended questions. The questions will focus on the topics described during the course and are intended to assess both the theoretical knowledge and the ability of the student to reason about the topics covered.
BIO/01 - GENERAL BOTANY - University credits: 0
BIO/05 - ZOOLOGY - University credits: 0
Lessons: 48 hours