Molecular biobased approaches for plant protection

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Novel approaches in plant protection are revolutionizing the plant protection market. Indeed, major technical advances are revolutionizing the ability to understand the process of pathogenicity and pathogen adaptation in agricultural systems. The goal of the course is to acquire knowledge necessary to understand, plan, and carry out molecular plant pathology research. The course will focus on brand new research approaches and the related technologies required for addressing open questions in plant pathology. The focus will be on major worldwide fungal and bacterial plant pathogens as well biocontrol agents used in agriculture.
Expected learning outcomes
The students will learn how to select and apply the methodologies to be used in molecular plant pathology as well as how to extrapolate key information from scientific papers. It is expected that at the end of the course the student will be able to 1) formulate hypothesis on the most appropriate experimental paths to be used to solve specific research questions in molecular plant pathology, 2) Develop theoretically a research plan focused on solving issues related to plant pathology based on the molecular background acquired.
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
Biobased products are becoming part of the portfolio of tools for agricultural production. Combining environmental, quality and productivity challenges in agriculture requires innovative products and approaches. Deciphering the molecular mechanisms of microbe interactions as well as plant microbe interactions are pivotal for the development of novel tools in agriculture and plant health that take in consideration productivity, quality of the production and the environmental challenges associated.

Mechanisms involved in the plant pathogen interaction and in biocontrol strategies are fundamental for guiding the development of novel, safe and effective biobased products. Understanding how interactions between microorganisms influence plant productivity and the agricultural ecosystem is the core of the course.
The goal of the course is to acquire biotechnological and laboratory skills useful to understand, plan, and carry out research aimed at deciphering the molecular mechanisms occurring in agricultural ecosystems. The course will focus on brand new research approaches and the related technologies required for addressing this question. Perspectives for industrial development of informed biobased products will be also discussed.
The course will address the following topics from a molecular perspective
- Open questions in plant health
- Recognition and sensing (factors determining recognition of the environment (host, microbes,..))
- Change, change, change (plasticity, genomes and stresses)
- The role of external molecules (xenobiotics and biocides)
- Communication (among cells) and the role of secondary metabolisms
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of cell biology, plant pathology, genetics and microbiology are important prerequisites.
In particular cell structure, mechanisms of cell replication, mechanisms of pathogenicity on plants and classical microbiological knowledge are important prerequisites. Future students are welcome to contact the teacher to obtain indications about texts and bibliographic references that can be studied to fill possible knowledge gaps.
Teaching methods
The course is composed of
1) frontal lessons (2 CFU) that address some of the key questions for the disciplines using as reference key scientific papers and reviews and;
2) practical laboratory activities (2 CFU) which focus on real experimental questions using both laboratory facilities and bioinformatics facilities. In the practical part students are required to answer to small research questions by actively developing experimental strategies, learning the use of dedicated bioinformatic techniques as well as learning key laboratory skills.
Teaching Resources
The material for the course includes slides used during the lessons and scientific articles that serves as reference for the theory of the discipline. Articles and slides are available on Ariel platform
Assessment methods and Criteria
Two exam modalities are possible.
The first type is composed of two parts:
1) a written test which includes approximately 10-15 multiple selection questions for a maximum time of 10 minutes based on the theoretical lessons
2) an oral question aimed to verify the ability of the student to reflect and elaborate on the possible experimental path that can be followed to address specific research questions within the discipline.
The length of the overall exam does not exceed the 20 minutes.
The student should therefore show the comprehension of the main theoretical aspects of the discipline and the ability to design experimental path in order to address a scientific question within the discipline.
The second option for the final exam can be selected (optionally) by the students participating to all the laboratory activities. In this case the exam is a written critical summary of the work carried out during the course with the modalities presented during the laboratory activities. The report will be judged for its comprehensiveness and for the precision and quality of data reporting.
Specific procedures for students with disabilities or specific learning disabilities (DSA) will be applied also for telematic exams. Here the complete information:……
In case you need specific procedures, please inform the teacher by mail at least 10 days before the exam, including in the addresses or
AGR/12 - PLANT PATHOLOGY - University credits: 4
Laboratories: 32 hours
Lessons: 16 hours
Room R056, building A21030, Via Celoria 2