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Facoltà di Scienze Agrarie e Alimentari Università degli Studi di Milano
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Fundamentals of plant biology and yield
Code: G2907C
Teacher:  Annamaria Giorgi
Year: 
Term: 
CFU: 
CFU subdivision: Lectures: 4,5
Practices in classroom: 0,5
Basic aims:  The course is aimed to giving to the Food Science and Technology student the basic knowledge of Plant and Animal Biology necessary for the understanding of the physiological and morphological characteristics of plant and animal products used for human nutrition, in order to evaluate their quality characteristics also from a technological point of view.
Acquired skills:  Knowledge of structure, localization and function of the different molecules present in plants and of the biological traits of plant cells, tissues and organs as related to their use as foods.
Understanding of the biological processes of seed and fruit development.
Knowledge of the main characteristics of milk and meat, and of the biological traits of animal cells, tissues and organs as related to their use as foods or in food production. Understanding of the quality interactions between productive factors in farm (management, feeding and genetics) and quality results in milk and meat.
Course contents:  Plants as food sources. Autotrophy and eterotrophy. Chemical bonds. Water. Biological molecules. The plant cell and its nutritional characteristics. DNA, RNA and protein synthesis. Genes and chromosomes. Cell division. Life cycle of angiosperms. The flower. Pollination and fertilization. The seeds. Fruits. Vascular plants. Meristems and adult tissues. Roots and their relevance as foods. Shoots and their relevance as foods. Leaves and their relevance as foods.
Program:  Plants in the biosphere. Plant-derived products as a food. Energy metabolism: autotrophy and eterotrophy. Chemical bonds.
Chemical-physical characteristics of water. Structure and function of biological molecules: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids. The cell theory. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. The components of the eukaryotic cell: cytoplasm, cell membranes, nucleus, mitochondria, ribosomes, microbodies, spherosomes, cytoskeleton. The plant cell. Plastids: genesis, structure and functions. The vacuole: genesis, structure and functions. The cell wall: genesis, structure and functions. Biochemical traits of the plant cells linked to the organoleptic properties of plant-derived foods. DNA replication and transcription. The genetic code.
Translation and protein synthesis. Genes and chromosomes. Mitosis and cell division in plant cells. Meiosis and its evolutionary meaning. Life cycle of the Angiosperms. Flowers. Micro- and macrosporogenesis, micro- and macrogametogenesis. Pollination and fertilization. Seed and fruit development. Storage compounds in seeds: chemical composition, functions, localization and nutritional characteristics in the systematic groups of greatest importance as a food. A few aspects of seed anatomy and germination important in food processing. Different kinds of fruit of greatest importance as a food. Climacteric and non-climacteric fruits. Vascular plants: morpho-physiological adaptations linked to dry-land habitat. Meristems and differentiated tissues. Tissue systems. Tegumental tissues: epidermis and stomata; opening and closing of stomata; trichomes; root epidermis, exodermis, endodermis. Secondary tegumental tissues. Parenchyma, collenchyma and sclerenchyma. Vascular tissues: xylem and phloem. The plant body. Roots: primary and secondary structure.
Storage roots. Roots used as foods. Stems: primary structure.
Modified stems: bulbs, tubers, rhyzomes. Stems used as foods.
Leaves: anatomy and functions. Leaf vegetables as foods.
Prerequisites:  The understanding of some fundamental topics of the course “Fundamentals of Biology and Primary Production” requires a few basic notions of organic and biological chemistry dealt with in high school.
Preparatory instructions:  None
Learning materials:  Notes from the course lectures. The teacher will make the slides shown during the lectures available for students on the e-learning site Ariel 2.0. A single textbook covering course contents is not available. For this reason, students are strongly advised to attend lectures. Notes taken during lectures and slides (see above) can be integrated with the following textbooks (for plant biology):
Modules 1 e 2: K.A. Mason, J.B. Losos, S.R. Singer: Biologia cellulare, Piccin ISBN: 978-88-299-2208-6;
K.A. Mason, J.B. Losos, S.R. Singer: Genetica e biologia molecolare,
Piccin ISBN: 978-88-299-2209-3. Module1: Pasqua, Abbate, Forni: Botanica generale e diversità vegetale, Piccin Editore.
Other info:  The exam consists in two written tests (one half way through and the other at the end of the course) made up of 20 closed-ended questions or sentences to complete and 2 open questions on the animal part for each test. Marks higher than or equal to 18/30 for each part and each test are considered valid. Written tests can be repeated during the year, during established examination times.
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Program of Fundamentals of plant biology and yield (pdf version)
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