Biotechnologies for a sustainable agricultural plant production (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Anita Zamboni
Anita Zamboni
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre dal Mar 1, 2021 al Jun 11, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course is aimed to define the meaning of sustainability concerning agricultural plant production stating from the analysis of the problems that the modern agriculture has to effort. The course will deal with subject matters regarding to: a) agrochemicals, in particular herbicides, describing their mode of action and their fate in the agroecosystem; b) nutrient use efficiency and plant metabolic responses to deficiency/toxicity of nutrients; c) plant adaptation to adverse chemical soil conditions as acidity, presence of Ca and Na carbonate, salinity and submerged conditions; d) plant biofortification for food and feed production. These contents will be developed and discussed considering the biotechnological approaches aimed to identify sustainable solutions.


- Agrochemical classification. Agrochemical mode of action with particular attention to the effects of herbicides on photosynthesis, amino acid and lipid synthesis, microtuble assembly, cell membrane integrity and cell growth. Plant responses to agrochemicals. Agrochemicals and soil: movement, adsorption and degradation. Outlines of agrochemical legislation.
- Macro- and micronutrient functions in plants. Outlines of nutrient availability in soils. Relation between nutrient concentration and plant growth/yield analysed as visible symptoms of nutritional disorders (deficiency and toxicity). The components of the nutrient use efficiency and the strategies for its improvement. Plants strategies to cope with macro- and micronutrient deficiency: N, P, Mg and Fe. Plant responses to nutrient toxicity.
- Acid mineral soils: major effects on plant growth due to toxicity of protons, Al and Mn and deficiency of Mg, Ca, P and Mo. Plant mechanisms of adaptation to acid soils. Calcareous and sodic soils: major nutritional constraints (particularly P, Fe and Zn deficiency) and plant mechanism of adaptation. Saline soils: major constraints for plant growth such as water deficit, ion toxicity and nutrients imbalance. Plant strategies for the adaptation to saline soils. Waterlogged and submerged soils: effects on plant metabolism and on nutrient availability. Plant metabolic and phenotypic adaptation.
- Plant biofortification with particular attention to mineral biofortification. Biofortification through fertilizer application. Biofortification through conventional breeding. Transgenic approach for biofortification.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Petra Marschner Marschner’s Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants Third Edition Elsevier 2012

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam consists in an oral colloquium both for attending and not-attending students. The exam is aimed at evaluating the student's knowledge of the whole program of the course paying attention to the depth of acquired knowledge and the ability to systematically connect topics. The mark will be expressed in 30-point scale.