Agro-food microbial biotechnologies (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturers
Giovanna Felis, Giacomo Zapparoli
Giovanna Felis
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
I semestre dal Oct 1, 2020 al Jan 29, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course provides students with the theoretical basis and knowledge of methods for microbial systems exploitation in the agro-food sector. At the end of the course, divided in two modules, the students will have basic knowledge on the metabolism of different classes of microorganisms useful to develop industrial processes, and will be able to link the type of microorganism with process improvement. Hence, the student will have the knowledge on the exploitation of biotechnological innovations. Further, he will be able to understand opportunities deriving from systems biology and genetic engineering for the improvement of processes in controlled conditions (bioreactors). Aquired expertise will be useful for the students as future actors in the technology transfer and innovation of products and processes in the agro-food production chain.


Module 1 (G. Felis)
1. Microbial biodiversity as source of microorganisms relevant to industrial applications, microbial groups, principles of taxonomy.
2. Fermentation processes: metabolisms, culture media and raw materials, bioreactors and downstream processing. Safety of micro/biological processes.
3. Unculturable/uncultured biodiversity as a frontier for innovation (culture-independent methods, screening procedures, new approaches for microbial isolation).
4. Law and regulations for conservation and exploitation of microbial diversity. Nagoya protocol. Regulations for genetically modified microrganisms. Patenting of microbial strains.
5. Innovative approaches to improve the performance of microbial strains (systems biology and genome editing).
Module 2 (G. Zapparoli)
6. Biomass production
7. The production of proteins including enzymes by yeasts and bacteria
8. Plant protection products including insecticides of microbial origins
9. Production of microbial amino acids, vitamins and aroma compounds
10. Production of organic acids
11. Microbial polysaccharides and polyesters
12. Antibiotic production

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Donadio Stefano, Marino Gennaro Biotecnologie microbiche Casa Editrice Ambrosiana. Distrib. Zanichelli 2008 978-8-808-18438-2
Baltz R.H., Davies J.E., Demain A.L. Manual of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (3rd Edition) ASM Press 2010
Manzoni Matilde Microbiologia industriale Casa Editrice Ambrosiana. Distrib. Zanichelli 2006

Assessment methods and criteria

Final profit check by written examination. The test will consist of 6-10 short answer questions, multiple answers, request for brief comments and descriptions. Each question is given a different weight in points. The attribution of the vote is out of thirty, based on the percentage of points totaled with the correct answers.
The examination procedure is the same for attending and non-attending students.
In the event of a health emergency, the exam modality could be changed to an oral exam with questions on the course content.