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Facoltā di Scienze Agrarie e Alimentari Universitā degli Studi di Milano
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Molecular plant pathology
Code: G000W-
Teacher:  Matias Pasquali
CFU subdivision: Lectures: 2
Practices in classroom: 2
Basic aims:  Major technical advances are revolutionizing the ability to understand the process of pathogenicity and pathogen adaptation in agricultural systems.
The goal of the course is to give:
1) notions related to the cellular processes and mechanisms leading to fundamental phenomena in plant pathology including the process of pathogenesis, the interaction with the plant and the metabolic processes necessary for the fitness of the pathogen and the antagonists covering both fungal and bacterial pathogens.
2) notions on innovative research approaches and methodologies used in molecular plant pathology
The focus will be on major worldwide fungal and bacterial plant pathogens as well biocontrol agents used in agriculture.
The students will learn how to select the methodologies to be used in molecular plant pathology as well as how to extrapolate key information from scientific papers.
Acquired skills:  It is expected that at the end of the course the student will be able to formulate hypothesis on the most appropriate experimental paths to be used to solve specific research questions in molecular plant pathology.
The students will also become familiar with recent literature on molecular plant pathology and will become able to address critical remarks on experimental setups.
Course contents:  The course will be completely in English.
The program will focus on the principal areas of active research in molecular plant pathology covering both pathogens mechanisms of action as well as biological control agents’ mechanisms of action.
In particular, focusing on the studies carried out in the last 10-15 years on the cellular and molecular processes involved in pathogenesis and adaptation by major plant pathogens, the course will detail the most recent outcomes achieved in molecular plant pathology research. The second part of the course will be focused on the critical analysis of molecular plant pathology papers in order to understand which methods have been used to carry out key experiments in molecular plant pathology. Practical activities by the students will be focused on how to understand and present the techniques and approaches used in a scientific work in molecular plant pathology.
Program:  - Open questions in plant pathology
- Spreading (mechanism of production and dispersion of propagules)
- Recognition (factors determining recognition of the host and neighbours)
- Change, change, change (plasticity, genomes and virulence)
- The role of external molecules (biocides)
- Communication (among cells)
- The importance of self-regulation (deciphering mechanisms of cellular regulation)
- The importance of being second (on secondary metabolism)
- Cellular structures (their role and function)

Practicals will deal with the critical analysis of research papers by the students with the teacher support in order to understand the tools and approaches used to generate fundamental knowledge in the domain
Prerequisites:  Knowledge of plant pathology
Knowledge of biology
Preparatory instructions:  At least a course dealing with plant pathogens
Learning materials:  Slides and articles provided by the teacher
Other info:  The exam will include an oral presentation by the student plus a written test aimed at veryfing the ability to understand a scientific article and develop and experimental setup for addressing important questions in molecular plant pathology
Program of Molecular plant pathology (pdf version)
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