CdSBIOTECNOLOGIE VEGETALI E MICROBICHE
The student who successfully completes the course will have a solid knowledge of the strategies and techniques to protect crops by the use of microbial pesticides in view of a more sustainable approach and taking into account those that are the main lineguides for the management of plant diseases (European Green Deal, Farm to Fork Strategy).
He/she will be able to define the procedure to select a micro(organism) to be exploited as a biopesticide, to evaluate its mechanisms of action and its field of application and to improve its efficacy through physiological and/or genetical methods.
He/she will be aware of the main aspects to develop an useful beneficial microorganism at industrial level, including risk evaluation and registration rules.
The student's ability to illustrate and to critically discuss the main course contents will be assessed by an oral examination, this last including the discussion of a laboratory report that will help to evaluate the comprehension level of the practical lab work and the student ability to write a report with a "scientific" style.
Final oral examination 90%; Laboratory report 10%
By the end of the course succesfull students wil have the competences: to plan basic research activities and pre-industrial development within the context of the use of biopesticides as alternative and eco-friendly tools to manage plant diseases; to play a crucial role in the industrial development of active ingredients and formulates; to give a contribution to the registration of new commercial products; to support the final users to make a correct choice and application of such products in the field of plant protection; to collaborate with institutions in order to define registration and application rules.
Students abilities will be submitted to two levels of evaluation: informally, during the course, by frequent exchanges (questions and answers) to verify the ability of each student to discuss the main topics of the lessons and of the lab work; formally, during the final examination, to evaluate their ability to face, to systematize and discuss the topics presented during lessons and lab work.
At the end of the course successfull student will be able to face new scientific or technical problems within the context of plant protection; to work with micro(organisms) as biopesticides or biostimulants in order to formulate responses to abstract and concrete problems in the field of non-chemical plant protection; to behave in a research laboratory and to self-organize simple experimental procedures aimed to select, investigate and develop microbial candidates to be use as active ingredients of new biopesticides; to communicate information, ideas and solutions to an audience consisting of specialists and non-specialists; to use effectively, in written and oral forms, at least one European language – other than Italian - in the specific field of biopesticides.
A proper level of behavioural activity will be acquired by the student and verified during the frontal lessons and the practical activities (accuracy and precision of the activities carried out).
Knowledge of the English language with a level of competence equal to B2.
Basic knowledge of plant pathology, mycology, microbiology, molecular biology.
The course will offer lectures, seminars (given by experts at both national and international level) and laboratory. Attendance is strongly advised.
The lectures are performed with the use of slides and videos, while practical classes are performed in a didactical biotechnological laboratory (the lab work will be individual and students will be required to prepare a report at the end of the course that will be discussed during the examination). The E-learnig site of the study course provides the teaching material used during lectures and disseminates information to students.
During the course the teacher gives the students advice and suggestion to guide them in the individual study and in the preparation of the exam. The interaction between the teacher and the students takes place through on-the-spot questions, interviews at the end of classes and by appointment, by e-mail or Skype connection.
Course introduction. General info on economic and social importance of biotic plant diseases and their management. Chemical control of plant diseases and health/environmental side effects. Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Biopesticides, their market perspectives and industrial point of view.
Mechanisms of action of beneficial micro(organisms): antibiosis, enzymatic lysis, hyperparasitism, competition for nutrients or infection sites; induction of resistance.
Fields of application: soil-, air- and seed-borne pathogens; post harvest pathogens.
Naturally occurring study cases of biological control of plant diseases: Cryphonectria parasitica, suppressive soils; Take-all decline; control of mycotoxigenic fungi.
Biopesticides R&D: isolation and selection protocols of beneficial micro(organisms); biomass production (solid state and liquid fermentation) and genetic manipulation of beneficial fungi (mutant production and selection; protoplast fusion; genetic transformation; genome editing included CRISPR-Cas); biomass formulation, formulates and co-formulants; quality control.
Biopesticides registered for the Italian market.
Biopesticides regulation (Italy and EU); risk assessment;
Seminars on specific subjects (industrial aspects, biocontrol of noxious weeds…)
Practical experiences: basic elements of the plant pathology lab; antagonistic tests as dual cultures. Presentation of relevant topics from the mass media, possibly from the perspective of students’ countries of origin. Consultation of databases and web sites, in order to practically apply the theoretical knowledge acquired during lessons.
R. Campbell (1989). Biological control of microbial plant pathogens. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, X + 218.
J.W. Deacon (2001) Modern Mycology, Blackwell Science Ltd., Oxford, UK.
D. B. Collinge (2016) Plant Pathogen Resistance Biotechnology, Wiley-Blackwell
Slides covering all the issues of the program, freely available in the e-learning web site
Scientific papers and selected Web sites will be indicated.
Non-attending students are invited to ask for a meeting with the teacher before starting to prepare for the exam.
Final oral examination
Discussion and evaluation of the Lab report; the delivery of the lab work report is requested to have access to the oral examination
Final oral examination, max 27 points; Lab report max 3 points. The lowest passing grade is 18/30.
For outstanding students degrees may be awarded a cum laude distinction.