Sustainable phytopathogen management (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Elodie Genevieve Germaine Vandelle
Elodie Genevieve Germaine Vandelle
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

Students will address the problem of pathogen control in plant production, with a view to a greater environmental sustainability, and will acquire specific knowledge regarding the strategies currently used to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides (biological control, integrated pest management). Moreover, deep knowledge will also be provided about the mechanisms governing the interactions between plants and pathogens, as well as their relationships with the ecosystem, as a prerequisite for the development of innovative strategies, based on the interference with microorganism pathogenicity and/or the strengthening of plant resistance and natural defense capabilities.


The course will deal with the following themes:

1. Introduction to Plant Pathology

2. Sustainibility in agriculture

3. Basic concepts of epidemiology

4. Plant disease management (IPM, Integrated Pest Management)

5. Description of the main pathogen agents (fungi, bacteria, phytoplasms, viruses and viroids) with symptom analysis and description:
- phytopathogenic fungi and pseudo-fungi: detailed cycle of Plasmopara viticola, Erysiphe necator, Botrytis cinerea, Puccinia graminis.
- phytopathogenic bacteria: detailed cycle of Erwinia amylovora, Pseudomonas syringae e Agrobacterium tumefaciens.
- phytopathogenic viruses: basic knowledge of the replication process, gene expression, assembly, movement of viral particles in infected plants. Detailed examples: Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV), Potato Virus Y (PVY). Viral transmission through vectors. Virus satellite and RNA satellites. The use of viruses as expression vectors.
- phytoplasms: basic knowledge and virulence factors.

6. Molecular mechanisms of pathogenicity and virulence of phytopathogenic microorganisms:
- pathogenicity factors: description, function, regulation
- virulence factors: description, function, regulation

7. Plant-pathogen interaction
-molecular bases of host specificity: non-host resistance and race-specific resistance
-plant-pathogen recognition: the elicitor-receptor model, the guard model, the decoy model

8. Plant resistance against diseases
-structure, function and evolution of resistance genes in plants
-mechanisms of resistance expression and regulation
-the defense responses: morpho-structural mechanisms, antimicrobial compound synthesis, the hypersensitive cell death (HR)
- the systemic resistances: signals and molecular mechanisms governing the systemic acquired resistance (SAR), the induced systemic resistance (ISR) and the systemic response to wounding.
6. Biotechnological applications for the development of new disease control strategies (biological control, resistant plants, inhibition of phytopathogen virulence)

Reference texts
-Plant Pathology, Agrios
-Fondamenti di Patologia Vegetale, edizione 2017, Pàtron Editore
-Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Plants, Buchanan
-Elementi di virologia vegetale, Piccin

Additional teaching material
-Slides of the course (provided at the end of the lecture)
-Scientific articles (references cited during the lectures)

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
B.B. Buchanan, W. Gruissem & R.L. Jones Biochemistry & Molecular Biology of Plants American Society of Plant Physiology 2000 0-943088
Belli Giuseppe Elementi di Patologia vegetale Piccin-Nuova Libraria 2015
Alberto Matta, Roberto Buonaurio, Aniello Scala ondamenti di patologia vegetale Pàtron 2017 8855533827
Agrios G.N. Plant Pathology (Edizione 4) Harcourt Academic Press 1997 0120445646

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam will include two parts:

1. Oral presentation of a scientific article in front of the class. The article is chosen by the students among a list proposed by the teacher or autonomously (approved by the teacher). The articles deal with arguments related to phytopathology themes addressed during the course. Evaluation criteria include the general understanding of the paper, the argument deepening for a proper description of the concept of the presented work (correlated bibliographic research), language skills and capacity to discuss in a critical manner.

2. Written exam with open questions. The aim of this exam is to ascertain that formative objectives described above have been reached. In particular, the following points will be taken into consideration:
-the degree of knowledge on the subject;
-the language skills related to the subject.

The final vote will be attributed considering one third for the article presentation and two thirds for the written exam. Each student will receive a unique final vote including the result of both exam parts.

The exam will be the same for all students, independently of their presence to the course.