Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course has the purpose of providing the basic concepts essential to undertake the study of the thermodynamic and biochemical mechanisms of functioning of living organisms. In particular, highlight the synthetic strategies that are put into practice in nature. It will also discuss the metabolic, physiological and pharmaceutical role that these compounds exert in organisms that produce them, or in organisms that come in contact with these molecules.
is treated the acquisition of a language formally correct, is stimulated their ability to express the content in a clear and straightforward way, are highlighted connections between different parts of the course and how they contribute to the overall understanding of the system.
Application of knowledge:
the course provides the tools to interpret in a rational way the main biological pathways that lead to the production of secondary metabolites. These compounds are found only in specific organisms or groups of organisms and are an expression of individuality of the species. Also encourages the student's understanding of events that had previously been addressed only in a phenomenological way.
Knowledge of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Course contents summary
The course aims to provide the fundamental concepts necessary to undertake the study of bioenergetics and metabolism of living organisms. In this regard, in the first part of the course, regarding the Bioenergetics, are taken into account the mechanisms of energy production of heterotrophic (either prokaryotic or eukariotic) and of autotrophic organisms( cyclic and non-cyclic photophosphorylation). Details are dedicated to the thermodynamics of systems far from equilibrium. In the second part of the course the main metabolic pathways that are present in living organisms are considered, highlighting which are common to all organisms and which are only present in the plant kingdom. In particular are studied in deep chemical and biochemical mechanisms that describe the biosynthesis present in living organisms. To better understand the processes described and to insert them into an applicative context, practical examples where these concepts are applied are discussed with the students.
Module 1- Energy, work, order; energy preservation and thermodynamic laws; energy fluxes in nature and in systems far from equilibrium. Evolution in biological systems; Prebiotic chemistry, biological homochirality, prokariotes and eukariotes, Catabolism, harvesting the light. Enzymes and coenzymes; role of enzymes and coenzymes in biological catalysis; vitamines. Module 2- Terpenes; biogenesis of terpenes, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes, natural rubber; squalene e phitoene, carotenoids, cicle of vision. Steroids; biogenesis of steroids, squalene, lanosterol, cholesterol; corticosteroids, sexual hormones, bile salts; physiological role. Fatty acids; biogenesis of saturated, monounsaturated, poliunsaturated fatty acis; Biogenesis of prostaglandines, tromboxanes, leukotrienes, lipoxines; physiological role. Acetogenines; biogenesis of acetogenines, flavanoids. Antibiotics; biogenesis and physiological role of the antibiotics; mechanisms of action of antibiotics. Shikimic acid; biogenesis of the shikimic acid; aromatic ammino acids, tetracyclines. Alcaloids; nomenclature, classification and biological role; biogenesis of selected compounds.
P. M. Dewick, Chemistry, Biosyntesis and bioactivity of organic natural substances, Piccin, Padova
D.N. Nicholls, S.J.Ferguson, Bioenergetics 3, Academic Press, London
The course takes place within 42 hours of lectures. During the lessons, students are guided to the understanding of the concepts of the production of energy in living organisms (Bioenergetics.) Are then dealt with the main metabolic pathways with the aim of understanding the functioning of living organisms. During each set of topics, and at the end, are discussed practical examples regarding the topics covered which are then discussed with the aim of allowing the student to assess their level of understanding of the subject.
The student participation is requested to rationalize the principles that living organisms use to produce the metabolites of their interest.
Assessment methods and criteria
During the course are scheduled sessions to verifiy the level of understanding of the concepts that are treated and their ability to assimilate them. In particular, it is evaluated as and if they are able to perceive the concept by asking them specific questions that solicit their participation in the definition of the topic in discussion(to check the ability to understand). At the beginning or at the end of each specific topic, are scheduled tutorial sessions where they are dealt with real situations and where are tested students' ability to interpret and discuss concrete problems (ability to apply knowledge in a context different from the theoretical part). The final examination consists of an oral test where there will be a discussion on a topic of bioenergetics and on one of biogenesis. During this discussion is tested student's ability to handle the arguments and its degree of understanding of the concepts used. The final mark will be the average between the two parts of the test.
The educational material is provided to students at the beginning of the course.
The teacher remains with the students for clarification and discussion at the end of the lesson and is available to provide further explanation, by appointment.