Methods in plant genetics and biotechnology

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to provide students with basic and advanced concepts on the production, use and cultivation of transgenic plants and the derived plant products of industrial interest. The educational objective of the course is also to provide students with an overview of the techniques for manipulating genomes.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student will have learnt the fundamental principles underlying plant biotechnology and their application, and have the theoretical skills to identify autonomously appropriate molecular strategies that can be used to modify traits of different complexity in plants.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for the academic year 2021/22 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Course syllabus
· Introduction to plant biotechnology
· Origin of agriculture, domestication and green revolution
· Polyploidy in Crop Improvement and Evolution
· Plant genetic improvement: concepts about selection, crossing, mutagenesis
· Genetically modified plants: breeding vs. genetic engineering
· Methods used for plants transformation and identification of the transgene.
· Plant transformations approaches (shotgun, Agrobacterium-mediated)
· DNA engineering for plant transformation: techniques and strategies
· Identification and use of constitutive, inducible, tissue- and cell- specific promoters
· Marker selection and reporter genes (their use and advantages)
· Alternative methods of transformations (e.g. chloroplast), advantages and disadvantages
· Molecular and genetic analysis of transgenic plants
· Silencing of the transgenes and implications
· Exploiting silencing mechanisms in plants (RNA interference)
· Definition of microRNA and their engineering
· Genome editing approaches and applications
Zinc Finger
· Transgenic plants for herbicide tolerance and resistance to insects
Soya Roundup Ready
Maize Bt
· Transgenic plants for cultivation in adverse environments
· Phytoremediation for growth on polluted soils
· Golden rice
Prerequisites for admission
A good level of understanding of Mendelian genetics and the fundamentals of molecular genetics is highly recommended.
Teaching methods
Lectures. Regular attendance and active participation during classes are strongly encouraged to improve the understanding of the topic. One lesson will be organized to use simple programs for the design of transformation constructs. During the course, 2 seminars from scientists working in the field of crop improvement and biotechnology will be presented.
Teaching Resources
During the course, an updated bibliography of the topics covered will be provided consisting of original publications, reviews and websites that will serve as an in-depth study of the information provided through the presentations and videos proposed during lessons.
Reference text for a general introduction to the topic: "Biotechnology and Plant Genomics" Rosa Rao and Antonietta Leone, Ed. Idelson-Gnocchi "
Assessment methods and Criteria
Learning assessment will be through an oral test in which the teacher will ask the students questions on the topics covered during the course. Both the knowledge of the techniques described and the reworking of the case studies presented will be evaluated.
BIO/18 - GENETICS - University credits: 6
Lessons: 48 hours
Professor: Gregis Veronica