PLANT GENETICS AND GENETICS OF MICRO-ORGANISMS
Learning outcomes of the course unit
1 - The process by which plant species have been domesticated and its implication for the evolution of plants and humans and for future modification of agricultural species; the possible role of new technologies (biotechnology) in resolving environmental problems involving agriculture and biodiversity; understanding the science base of our food, land, people and environmental systems and their interface with the social, economic, and political systems.
2 - Extrachromosomal genetic systems of plants (chloroplasts and mitochondria) will be analysed and their contribution to evolution in terms of plasticity and horizontal gene transmission discussed.
3 - the common denominators in the developmental process of organisms will be emphasized. In this course will be dealt with the development of flower on the molecular and genetic level.
Genetics of Microrganisms
1- The genetic and molecular basis of development in simple organisms, such as Bacillus subtilis, will be presented as a paradigm for the spatial and temporal control of gene expression.
2- Several microbial model systems, with special attention to yeast, will be described. Their methodological peculiarities and their utilization to implement genetic screening will be discussed. Deepened knowledge of experimental approach exploited in genetic analysis will be useful to suggest strategies aimed at analyzing genetic functions and dissecting complex biological processes taking advantage of model systems.
3–Tools will be provided for the utilization in biotechnology of the information given by the genomes sequencing.
Course contents summary
Plants and Humans - Agriculture and development. Production and sustainability. Crop improvement: breeding, selection and loss of genetic diversity.
Plant Biotechnology - Historical survey. In vitro cell, organ and tissue cultures. Selection of mutants; somaclonal variation. Plant transformation: methods, advantages and risks; examples and perspectives.
Extra-nuclear genetic systems -The chloroplast: structure and function; chloroplast DNA, gene organisation and regulation of their expression. Origin and endosymbiotic evolution. The mitochondria of plants: structure and function. Mitochondrial DNA, gene organisation and regulation of their expression. Origin and endosymbiotic evolution. Interactions among the three genetic systems (nucleus ,chloroplast, mitochondria).
Genetic regulation of plant development, an example - Plant reproduction and flower development: control of meristems identity, the ABC model, homeotic genes and MADS box genes.
Genetics of Microrganisms
The sporulation process of Bacillus subtilis. General principles of the model system. Sporulating or growing: a difficult choice to be controlled by a complex system of sensors/regulators. Sporulation start: a molecular switch depending on a signal transduction pathway (Phosphorelay). Cell differentiation: generation of cellular asymmetry by differential gene expression into different cell compartments ( prespore vs mother cell); role of sigma factors. How do cells communicate? Criss-cross system.
Gene function analysis in model microorganisms. Classical genetics and reverse genetics. Introduction to yeast as a model system.
Material provided by the lecturer
Assessment methods and criteria
Assessment can be integrated with the presentation of a paper on an agreed research topic