This section focuses on the technical tools and theoretical basis of plant/ algae biotechnological improvements for biofuel or food production.
The different constructs for plant and algae genetic engineering together with the molecular basis of Agrobacterium-mediated transformation are discussed first. The different elements of expression vectors, including constitutive and inducible promoters, enhancers, reporter genes, replication origin and marker genes, together with the strategies to create marker-free transgenes are described.
Then the organisms and the strategies used to produce biofuels of first, second and third generation are described, with several examples of transgenic plants and algae with improved biofuel production capacity.
The third part will examine plant traits modified by transgenesis or mutagenesis which are already on the market or which are likely to be commercially available in the near future: herbicide tolerance, pest resistance, improved nutritional content...etc.
This section approaches two fundamental questions of metabolic engineering: 1) which factors regulate metabolic fluxes and 2) which strategy (between altering metabolite concentrations or altering fluxes) works better to modify the yields in a certain product. In order to tackle the questions we shall make use of the tools provided by the Metabolic Control Analysis theory. We shall discuss the limits due to supply/demand of metabolic intermediates as well as the evidence in favor of the so-called Universal method (parallel activation) to increase fluxes and the implications for manipulation strategies.
Several case studies (and the relative effectiveness and limits) of plant biotechnology will be discussed, among which: the production in plants of material for industrial use (starches, sugars, lipids, vitamins, aminoacids, dyes, drugs, flavourings ...etc.) and the inactivation of allergens and toxins.
Literature and lecture notes concerning Section 1 are provided during the lectures. Concerning Section 2, some bibliographic material is listed below. Further material is presented and made available during the lectures
 Fell, Understanding the control of Metabolism, Portland Press (1997)
 Dennis/Turpin, Plant Metabolism (1998) Longman; nuova edizione.
 Lea/Leegood, Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1993) Wiley & sons.
PREREQUISITES AND EXAMINATION PROCEDURES
The examination is oral and consists of several questions on each section of the program.
Full programs and lecture slides available at the ARIEL website