PLANT GENETICS AND BREEDING
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The objectives of the course are aimed at providing the basic notions of Mendelian and molecular genetics necessary for the understanding of the transmission of the hereditary characters and of the variability of the traits in the plant species and in particular in the crop species. Tools will be provided to understand the applications of genetic analysis, of biotechnology and of genetic improvement for sustainable agriculture.
Course contents summary
The course is based on frontal lectures devoted to Mendelian genetics, quantitative genetics, and genetics of populations. Genetic studies in plant species of agricultural interest will illustrate how to use molecular approaches to accelerate genetic improvement processes for quality- related and productivity-related characters. The discussion of case studies will be provided examples of the main methods of genetic improvement both with classical methods and through "Marker-assisted selection" and "association mapping".
Introduction to the course. Recalls of Classical Genetics. Genetic recombination in plants, genetic maps, physical maps and integrated maps. Systems, barriers and genetic control of reproduction. Gene mutations. Chromosomal mutations: aneuploidy and polyploidy. Population genetics: balance of Hardy and Weinberg; evolutionary forces: migration, mutation, selection and genetic drif, Inbreeding. Origin and evolution of cultivated species, and plant biodiversity. Principles of genetic improvement of plants, and examples. Genetic bases of the main traits of interest for the cultivated species. Inheritability and selection. The exploitation of heterosis and the establishment of hybrid seeds. Genetic and molecular technologies to support the improvement of cultivated species for qualitative and quantitative traits (tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, improvement of the quality of agricultural production and nutritional value of food). Generation of genetic variability: physical and chemical mutagenesis applied to genetic improvement. Molecular markers: definition and classifications (based on restriction and hybridization techniques, on amplification, on sequencing). Main applications of molecular markers: gene mapping, genotyping, identification of QTL (Quantitative Trait Loci) and marker-assisted selection (MAS). Genetic and molecular technologies to support improvement.
-Russell, Wolfe, Hertz, Starr, McMillan Genetica Agraria – Edises.-Barcaccia, Falcinelli - Genetica e genomica: Miglioramento Genetico,volume II - Liguori Editore . The slides utilized during lectures will be available on the Elly platform. The access is restricted to registered students. Other bibliographic materials will be provided on the same platform.
The course will be conducted through frontal lessons on the specific topics of the program, with the help of slides. The teaching material will be available on the Elly platform. However, it is highly recommended to use a text for individual study.
Assessment methods and criteria
The exam is performed as an oral examination. Specific questions will be useful to assess the knowledge of the main topics. This part will constitute the 80% of the final score. Specific cases, among those treated during the lectures, will be discussed in order to evaluate the ability to transfer theoretical knowledge to real situations. This part will constitute the 20% of the final score. The exam will be passed with a sufficient mark if the student is able to demonstrate knowledge of the basic topics of genetics. The vote will be increased if the student proves to have good awareness of the topics covered, ability to link the various concepts acquired and good ability to display concepts.