Plant physiology

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The aim of the teaching is to provide students with basic knowledge of plant physiology, with particular regard to the aspects of plant development, metabolism, and adaptations to the environment. The teaching aims to develop this knowledge at different levels of the organization, from the molecular level to the single-cell and tissue level up to the whole plant. Furthermore, the teaching will provide notions related to the analysis of complex functions from the biochemical, biophysical and biological/molecular point of view and to the understanding of how the individual components interact with each other at the systems biology level.
Expected learning outcomes
The student, at the end of the teaching, will have a basic knowledge of plant physiology and an ability to distinguish the different functions of plants; he/she will be able to describe the physiological state of plants related to the different aspects of development, metabolism, and adaptations to the environment. The student will have the ability to update and deepen their knowledge about the different levels of plant organization.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
The lessons will be held synchronously on the Microsoft Teams keeping the set times.

The program and reference material will not be affected.

Lessons will be also recorded and the files made available to the students.

In the case that the written exams cannot be held in person, they will be carried out using the platform, in the manner illustrated on the University portal.
Course syllabus
Plant water relations. Water and plant cell: forces that influence the movement of water at the cellular level. Hydrostatic and osmotic pressure. Water potential and its components. Soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. Soil water potential. Radical pressure and guttation. Transpiration and cohesion-tension theory. Atmospheric water potential. Xylematic and phloem flows. Opening/closing mechanisms of the stomata.
Membrane transports. The electrochemical potential of solutes and transport through membranes. Proton and non-proton pumps of the plant cell.
Mineral nutrition and assimilation of nitrogen. Essential mineral nutrients: functions and transport mechanisms of the main mineral ions. Absorption and reduction of ammonium nitrate. Assimilation into aminoacids. Symbiosis: nodulation and nitrogen fixation; mycorrhiza.
Photosynthesis and metabolism. Light. Chloroplasts. Photosynthetic pigments. Structure and function of the photosystem II. Cytochrome b6f and Q cycle. Structure and function of the photosystem I. ATPsyntase of chloroplasts. Scheme Z. Linear and cyclic photosynthetic transport. I steal and cycle by Calvin Benson. Photorespiration. Metabolism C4 and CAM. Energy yield of photosynthesis. Net and gross photosynthesis. Metabolism of starch and sucrose. Phloem translocation and sink-source relationships.
Signal transduction. Notes on the role of receptors and second messengers involved in plant/environment interaction.

Photoreceptors and hormones. Auxin. Polar transportation of the auxin. Role of auxin in cell growth by distension, phototropism, and gravitropism. Cytokinins, Abscisic Acid, Giberelline, and Ethylene. Classes of plant photoreceptors. Phytochromes: photoconversion, translocation in the nucleus, and modification of gene expression. Escape from the shadows. Cryptochromes. Phototropins and phototropism.
Prerequisites for admission
Good knowledge of general and organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, cytology, and plant biology is required. Furthermore, knowledge of chemical and electrochemical potentials working in the main biological reactions and in the transport of solutes is required.
Teaching methods
The lectures will have a classic format, given by the teachers using PowerPoint slides. 1 CFU will be dedicated to laboratory or classroom exercises. During the lessons, students will be encouraged to actively participate with questions and comments relating to the topics considered. Students/teachers discussion groups can be formed in which to deepen some themes. Attendance to the course is highly recommended.
Teaching Resources
The book used as a reference is Taiz, Zeiger, Moller, Murphy "Plant physiology" in the Italian version or in the latest and more updated English edition "Plant Physiology and Development". All the PowerPoint material used for the lessons will be made available to students on the dedicated Ariel website. Students will be advised to read articles and research reviews, works that will be made available through the Ariel website or Teams platform on the "Plant Physiology" class channel.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam will be a written test in Italian, with 9 questions (5 open and 4 multiple choices) and 1 exercise. To pass the examination the student must obtain a score of at least 18/30. Each question will be assigned a maximum of 3 points (10 x 3 = 30).
The answers to the open questions will be assessed on the basis of the student's ability to synthesize and organize knowledge with specific terminology and properties of language, to apply the acquired knowledge to the resolution of concrete problems. The answers to the multiple-choice questions will allow us to evaluate the basic knowledge of the single elements that contribute to forming complex physiological functions. The exercise will involve solving of an equation regarding membrane transport or photosynthetic efficiency.
BIO/04 - PLANT PHYSIOLOGY - University credits: 9
Practicals: 16 hours
Lessons: 64 hours
Educational website(s)
Thursday 14:00-16:00
Department of Biosciences 3rd Floor Tower C