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Facoltà di Scienze Agrarie e Alimentari Università degli Studi di Milano
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Biochemistry and plant physiology
Code: G2803-
Teacher:  Noemi Negrini
CFU subdivision: Lectures: 5
Practices in classroom: 1
Basic aims:  Aim of the Course is to provide tools for the comprehension of the basic principles of plant biochemistry and physiology. In particular the effects of environmental conditions on plant biochemical and physiological processes and the plant adaptive responses to the environment will be studied in order to understand the mechanisms involved in crop plant production.
Acquired skills:  Knowledge of the mechanisms involved in the regulation of energy and matter transformation in plants. Knowledge of basic biochemical and physiological processes determining crop plant production. Criteria and methods tfor preliminary evaluation of the effects of environmental and stress conditions on plant crop production.
Course contents:  Bioenergetics and thermodynamics: chemical and electrochemical potentials. Kinetics of enzymatic catalysis. Carbon metabolism: glycolysis and fermentation, Krebs cycle, electron flux and oxidative phosphorylation. Photosynthesis: photosystems, photosynthetic electron flux and photophosphorylation. Carbon assimilation, ecophysiology of photosynthesis, carbon allocation. Water physiology: water potential, osmosis and cell growth, water absorption by the root, water movement in the xylem and the phloem, transpiration, regulation of stomata opening, water balance and plant adaptation to water stress. Mineral nutrition: thermodynamics and kinetics of transmembrane solute transport. Assimilation of N, S, P. Phloem loading and unloading and assimilate partitioning
Program:  Principles of bioenergetics and thermodynamics. thermodynamics laws. Enthropy and free energy. Exo- and endoergonic reactions. ATP and phosphor group transfer. Energetically coupled reactions. Redox reactions: relationship between changes in redox potential and changes in free energy. Thermodynamics and kinetics of enzymatic catalysis: Michaelis-Menten equation. Inhibition and regulation of enzyme-catalyzed reactions. Carbon metabolism: degradation of storage polysaccharides, glycolysis and fermentation. Effects of hypoxia and anoxia in plants. TCA cycle. Electron flux and oxidative phosphorylation. Mitchell’s chemiosmosis theory. Energy yield of respiration. Other mechanisms of O2 consumption in plants. The pentose-P pathway. Beta-oxydation of fatty acids and the glyoxylate cycle. Photosynthesis: the electromagnetic spectrum, chemistry and physiology of photosynthetic pigments. Photosystems: light-harvesting complexes and reaction centers. Photosynthetic electron flux and photophosphorylation. Effects of herbicides on the photosynthetic electron transport. Photoxydative damage. Carbon assimilation: C3 cycle, photorespiration, C4 cycle, CAM metabolism. Ecophysiology of photosynthesis. Carbon allocation: synthesis of starch and sucrose. Plants and water: the water potential and the factors contributing to water potential. Water and the plant cell: osmosis, cell turgor, expansion growth. Water absorption by the root: apoplastic and symplastic pathways. Water movement through the xylem. Driving forces of transpiration, water diffusion through the stomata, regulation of stomata opening. Plant adaptations to water stress. Mineral nutrition: essential nutrients, nutritional deficiencies and plant physiological disorders., nutrient bio-availability. Solute transport in plant cells: transmembrane chemical and electrochemical potential. Thermodynamics and kinetics of transmembrane solute transport. Pumps, carriers and channels. Assimilation of N, S, P. Plant responses to heavy metal pollution. Translocation in the phloem: osmotically generated pressure flow, phloem loading and unloading. Assimilate partitioning: sink-source relationship. Short accounts on plant growth regulators.
Prerequisites:  Botany, General and inorganic chemistry, Organic chemistry
Preparatory instructions:  Botany, General and inorganic chemistry, Organic chemistry
Learning materials:  Teaching material is available for students at the http://nnegrinibfv.ariel.ctu.unimi.it/v1/home/Default.aspx
Recommended textbooks: 1 - Lehninger A.L., Nelson D.L., Cox M.M. Introduzione alla biochimica. Ed. Zanichelli, Bologna. 2 - N. Rascio et al. "Elementi di Fisiologia Vegetale", EdiSES, Bologna 2012.
Other textbooks: 1 - Taiz L., Zeiger E. Fisiologia Vegetale. Ed. Piccin Padova. 2 - Alpi A., Pupillo P, Rigano C. Fisiologia delle Piante. EdiSES, Bologna.
Other info:  Two written examinations in itinere, at about halfway and at the end of the course, with multiple choice and open questions. Monthly oral examination.
Program of Biochemistry and plant physiology (pdf version)
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