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Facoltà di Scienze Agrarie e Alimentari Università degli Studi di Milano
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Applied ecology of arthropods and fungi - D.U.2: fungal ecology
Code: G271LB
Teacher:  Marco Saracchi
Year: 
Term: 
CFU: 
CFU subdivision: Lectures: 2
Practices in classroom: 1
Basic aims:  To provide basic knowledge about the biology and ecology of arthropods and fungi propaedeutic to the disciplines of defense and, in particular, regarding the influence of abiotic and biotic factors on the biology of arthropods and fungi, their relationships with other organisms and strategies of self-preservation, the relationships and interactions in agroecosystems.
Acquired skills:  The student will acquire useful knowledge to understand and evaluate the response of arthropods and fungi under varying environmental and ecological conditions, in order to better understand the criteria on which the management of plant protection is based.
Course contents:  The course provides fundamental information on the practical aspects of the ecology of arthropods and fungi ecology such as basic knowledge that will find a natural development in courses on entomology, plant pathology, crop and food protection and ecology.

Regarding mycological subjects the course provide knowledge on morphology, ultrastructure, taxonomy (based on traditional and molecular criteria) , variability and fungal physiology including production of secondary metabolites. The study on the fungal ecology concern different areas they occupy in the ecosystem as decomposers, saprophytes, symbionts or pathogens.
Program:  The course provides fundamental information on the practical aspects of the ecology of arthropods and fungi ecology such as basic knowledge that will find a natural development in courses on entomology, plant pathology, crop and food protection and ecology.
Regarding the mycological aspects the course will cover the following topics:
Structure and organization of the fungal thallus : hyphae and hyphal wall, cellular organization, septa, apical growth, branching and hyphal fusions, hyphal modifications and aggregations.
Reproduction: asexual and sexual reproduction and related reproductive structures (zoospores, sporangiospore, conidiospore, oospores, zigospore, ascospores and basidiospores), fruiting bodies, reproductive strategies of fungi.
Fungal classification: criteria for fungal taxonomy, general characteristics of the main taxonomic groups.
Spore germination: latency, morphology of germination processes, influence of environmental factors on germination.
Influence of environmental factors and nutrition on growth and fungal reproduction.
Variability: importance and mechanisms of heterokaryosis , cytoplasmic inheritance.
The fungal symbiosis: mycorrhizae; physiological interactions between plant and fungus, the different types of mycorrhiza, ecological significance of plant diseases and mycorrhizal relationship.
The fungal symbiosis: lichens; nature of the interaction between fungi and algae, types and ecological significance.
Fungi and saprophytism: the biodegradation of organic matter to the biodeterioration of materials and products.
Parasitism: parasitic relationships between fungi and various types of hosts, introduction to plant parasitism.

During the exercises will be developed mycological aspects regarding the techniques of cultivation and identification of fungi, special cases of interactions between fungi and other organisms and / or substrates in order to emphasize their ecological role.
Some topics of the exercises will be directly developed by the students, individually or in groups, with the support of the teacher and shared with other course participants.
The material produced during the exercises will be made available to students. The topics covered and / or developed during the exercises will be subject to verification in the examination.
Prerequisites:  Students have to know fundamental principles of vegetal biology.
Preparatory instructions:  none
Learning materials:  Notes from the lectures.
manuscripts and documents on the SIFA on-line system.

Reference books:
Petrolini, Sardi, Quaroni “Micologia” edizione Clesav, 1991;
Deacon “Fungal Biology” Blackwell Publishing;
Carlile, Watkinson, Gooday “The fungi” Academic Press, 2001;
Other info:  oral examination.
Regarding fungi, the oral examination consists of an interview on the topics in the program, designed to measure the basic knowledge of micology and micological ecology and the application of such knowledge to examples of ecological relationships between fungi and the environment, which are also included in the program, in order to assess the student's ability to evaluate individual aspects of the topics
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Program of Applied ecology of arthropods and fungi - D.U.2: fungal ecology (pdf version)
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