Plant Molecular Genetics (2017/2018)

Course code
Antonella Furini
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Teaching is organised as follows:
Activity Credits Period Academic staff Timetable
teoria 5 I sem. Antonella Furini

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laboratorio 1 I sem. Antonella Furini

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Learning outcomes

The course examines the main strategies of plant genetics and crop improvement. Molecular markers and tools for gene expression analysis and improvement of crops are addressed. Objective of the course is also the evolution of crop species, sinteny, plant genome structure and genetic variability useful for crop improvement. Aspects of plant biotechnology for improving crop species to increase yield and quality of products obtained by cultivation.

The objective of the laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics is to introduce students to several methods useful for the molecular genetic analysis. The techniques used are strictly related to the topics covered during class lectures.


Introduction to molecular genetics.
- Plant breeding and crop mprovement.
- Molecular genetics for increasing crop yield.
- Green revolution, Harvest Index. GAi and the green revolution genes.
- Change plant architecture to increase yield.
- Perennialism.
- Biotechnology expectation.
- Biodiversity, centers of origin of crop plants, genetic variability.
- Plant domestication and evolution: hybridization, polyploidy and mutation. Sources of variability.
- Genome of crop species, synteny and comparative genomics. Plant genome size.
- Transposable elements and genome evolution. Heterosis. Forward genetics and reverse genetics.
- Gene function analysis.T-DNA-tagging, transposon-tagging.
- Gene silencing, RNA interfering.
- Molecular markers and assisted selection.
- Epigenetics, histone modification and DNA methylation.
- Plant-environment interaction and epigenetic variability.
- Plant genetic transformation: select and express exogenous genes in plants to improve quality and/or increase yield.
- Strategies to remove marker genes. Transgenic insertion by homologous recombination.
- New techniques of genome editing, cisgenesis and intragenesis.
Global status of commercialized biotech/GM crops.
Laboratory work:
- Arabidopsis thaliana transformation by 'Floral dip'.
- Screening for homozygous and heterozygous mutants.
- Leaf protoplst isolation and transfection.
- Microscopic analysis of transfected protoplasts and subcellular localization of fluorescent proteins.
- Real Time PCR for the expression analysis of genes modulated by different stress conditions

Assessment methods and criteria

oral examination on topics treated during lessons and practical course