Genetics and biotechnology of no-food crops (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Giovanni Dal Corso
Giovanni Dal Corso
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

Objective of the course is to provide to students the main knowledge concerning no-food crops for industrial production. A significant part of the course will concern breeding, highlighting both traditional and genetic engineering techniques and main goals associated to each no-food culture. In a following moment, the main industrial crops (e.g. cultures for production of oil, sugars, industrial compounds, etc.) will be considered, shedding light on their genetics, responses to abiotic stresses and adaptability. The course will help students to acquire the required knowledge to develop no-food plant resources, well-embedded into a system of eco-sustainable agriculture.


1. Introduction
1.1. Reference to the meaning of circular economy and sustainable agriculture;
1.2. Differentiation between food and non-food agriculture; importance of non-food agriculture for sustainability.
1.3. Issues related to the development of non-food crops.

2. Plant breeding
2.1. Definition of plant breeding and General and specific targets of plant breeding;
2.2. Methodologies applied to plant species: conventional approach, crossbreeding and selection; the role of in vitro cultures and mutagenesis: mutation breeding. Molecular markers and their application in plant breeding. The study of natural populations - mapping by association and the concept of linkage disequilibrium - (GWAS) application to industrial plant species.
2.3. Biotechnology and plant breeding - consolidated methods (physico-chemical methods; biolistic method; transformation mediated by Rhizobium radiobacter) and new methods (genome editing and molecular breeding).

3. Non-food crops
For each category, examples of species of economic interest, information on plant genetics, variety availability, the main aspects of genetic improvement and the progress of traditional and biotechnological breeding will be considered.
3.1. Energy crops and biofuels (biofuels and bioenergy crops): Jatropha, etc.
3.2. Oil crops (oil crops): eg, Brassicacea.
3.3. Fiber crops (fiber crops): e.g. cotton, linen, hemp, Arundo.
3.4. Biomass coppices (short rotation forestry): poplar, eucalyptus, black locust, willow.
3.5. Sugar crops (carbohydrate crops): sugar cane, sugar beet.
3.6. Plants as bioreactors: production of molecules and proteins of pharmaceutical and industrial interests.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Gianni Barcaccia, Mario Falcinelli Genetica e genomica (Edizione 2) Liguori 2012 8820737426
Gianni Barcaccia, Mario Falcinelli Genetica e genomica vol III Liguori 2007 8820737434
Albertini Emidio Frusciante Luigi Lorenzetti Franco Rosellini Daniele Russi Luigi Tuberosa Roberto Veronesi Fabio Miglioramento genetico delle piante agrarie Edagricole-New Business Media 2020 8850655096

Assessment methods and criteria

Examinations will consist in oral presentations regarding the topics covered during the course. If the health situation allows it easily, the exam could be completed in the written form.