The teaching is organized as follows:
The course is composed of three distinct parts of plant biotechnology with a sole objective: to let students acquire relevant knowledge on technologies that use plants or plant cells to obtain useful products or processes.
1. MODULE OF PHYTOREMEDIATION Students will gain information on causes and effects of environmental contamination with inorganic and organic compounds. Possible decontamination systems: physical-chemical methods and biological treatments. Analysis of plants used for phytoremediation of contaminated soils and waters.
2. MODULE OF BIOENERGY AND BIOFUEL The teaching module “biofuels” supplies basis for the identification and properties of fuels from different sources. Among these biofuels are considered in detail, namely bio-ethanol, bio.diesel and bio-hydrogen and the consequence of their use for environment, production issues and vehicle traction.
3. MODULE OF MOLECULAR FARMING aims to give the students notions of the use of plants for the production of high-value molecules. Cases of molecules produced in plant systems and their applications in the medical and diagnostic fields will be shown.
PHYTOREMEDIATION. Environmental pollution with organic and inorganic waste. Chemical/Physical and biological environmental remediation. Use of plants for in situ removal of contaminats. Analysis of metal hyperaccumulator plants. Phytoremediation: Advantages and limitations. Different processes of phyto-remediation: degradation, stabilization, volatilization, stimulation, extraction of contaminants from soils and waters. Phytoremediation of inorganic compounds: role of chelators and membrane transporters. Transgenic plants for the reclamation of soils contaminated with heavy metals. Phytoremediation of organic compounds: role of plant-microorganism interactions for the phytodegradation. Uptake and transport of organic compounds, their degradation and accumulation in plant cell wall. Transgenic plants for the phytoremediation of organic compounds. Biomonitoring of environmental pollution: assay available, methods and applications (Prof. Furini).
BIOENERGY AND BIOFUEL. Definition of biofuels, biomass of origin. Bio-gas, bio-ethanol, bio-diesel and bio-hydrogen. Present procedures of production and legislation. Energy balance of photosynthetic organisms, upper limits of productivity, factors of loss of productivity, comparison with photovoltaics. Crops as biomass for biofuels. Present state and perspectives for improvement in crops and wild type organisms. Unicellular algae: advantages and disadvantages with respect to crops. Biodiesel from algae. Bio-hydrogen from algae. Molecular genetics in unicellular algae model system and productive systems. Procedures limiting engineering of algae. Growth in photobioractors: different architevctures and limits for productivity. Algae as CO2 scavengers. Metabolic engineering of light use efficiency. Lipid metabolism. Electron transport and hydrogenases (Prof. Bassi).
MOLECULAR FARMING An introduction to plant molecular farming, state of the art, applications and perspectives. Transient and stable expression systems for recombinant protein production in plant systems. Nanobiotechnology for the production of nano-materials in plant systems and their applications. Plants in molecular farming: bioreactors or direct oral delivery systems. Strategies for the optimization of heterologous proteins in plant systems: from gene construct design to sub-cellular targeting. Downstream processing in plant molecular farming. Glycosilation and glycol-engineering in plant systems for the production of heterologous proteins carrying “humanized” post-translational modifications. In planta production of complex molecules: the antibodies. Examples of recombinant protein expressed in plant systems (Vaccines and antibodies) (Prof. Avesani).
PHYTOREMEDIATION Oral examination on topics presented during the course and though scientific selected papers given to the students.
BIOENERGY AND BIOFUEL The exam will be made through the answer to multiple choice questions and short answers (10-15 lines) to questions. Evaluation can be improved through the oral presentation of an article from a list provided by the teacher.
MOLECULAR FARMING The final exam consists in an oral test on the topics of the course and on a written report on the scientific literature dealing with the exploitation of a specific patent.