Crop productivity and stress physiology (2020/2021)

Course code
Luca Dall'Osto
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Teaching is organised as follows:
Activity Credits Period Academic staff Timetable
teoria 4 II semestre Luca Dall'Osto

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laboratorio 2 II semestre Luca Dall'Osto

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Learning outcomes

The course is intended as a match between the contributions of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology in understanding the physiological processes that regulate plant growth and development, in relation to the applicable aspects concerning agricultural production. Moreover, the course includes the study of the common characteristics of environmental stresses, to understand the effect these have on the agricultural productivity and the methods for the identification of resistance phenotypes. The course aims to introduce strategies for increasing productivity and sustainability in agriculture through genetic engineering, developing skills in the definition of biotechnological approaches for improving yield of crops.


Plant growth analysis; biomass production, light interception, photosynthetic efficiency; potential and actual productivity.

Methods for the prediction and quantification of productivity in the field.

Strategies for improving photosynthetic efficiency: engineering of the Calvin cycle, photorespiration bypass, mechanisms of carbon concentration, improvements in light use efficiency

Possible effects of the increase in atmospheric CO2 on agricultural production

Introduction to environmental stresses: definitions and limits of the problem

Methods for the identification of stress-induced phenotypes and gene products

Salt and drought stress; freezing stress; stress from lack of oxygen and submersion; thermal stress; stress from toxic compounds

Oxidative stress: origins, structures and molecules involved. Biophysical and biochemical analysis of oxidative damage. Mechanisms of thermal dissipation, detoxification processes.

The molecular mechanisms of acclimation to the environment
Integration between traditional strategies and innovations (agriculture 4.0) aimed at generating a management system integrated by observations, measures and actions, to optimize the efficiency of agricultural production, product quality, profitability and environmental sustainability.

All topics will be covered by referring to examples of biotechnological applications aimed at improving productivity.

Assessment methods and criteria

The assessment of learning outcomes involves an oral test to verify the knowledge acquired. To access it, it is necessary to deliver, at least one week before the test, a report on the practical activities carried out in the laboratory.
The interview aims to verify the degree of knowledge gained, the analytical ability, the property of language, the ability to connect knowledge in a systemic form, the ability to propose biotechnological strategies to obtain plants with improved characteristics, in a precise and organic way. The exam potentially covers all the topics in the program delivered to the student at the opening of the course. The final evaluation is given on the basis of 30 points. There are no halfway tests.