Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims at teaching the basic functional aspects of living organisms, with an emphasis on the systems of production and accumulation of primary and secondary metabolites of pharmaceutical interest. From this standpoint, the course aims to provide the key to understand the ecophysiological rationale behind the role of biodiversity and agrobiodiversity and behind the organization of plant tissues and organs.
Course contents summary
- Key substances of living organisms: lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, DNA. Enzymes and their roles.
- Morphogenesis and plant secondary metabolism.
Autotrophic and heterotrophic organisms. Cytology: the prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell structure, the cellular organization, the physiological and ecological role of its components. Differences between animal and plant cells. The plant cell as a laboratory for the production of compounds relevant for pharmaceutical purposes: biological (primary and secondary metabolism). Unique plant cell structures (vacuoles, plastids, wall) and their biological function and relapses on food uses. Histology: meristematic tissues, adult and definitive tissues. Structures devoted to the secretion and accumulation of plant secondary metabolites. Histological anatomy of roots, stems (in primary and secondary structure) and leaves, with examples functional to the obtention of foods. Organography of leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds and their role in the accumulation of primary and secondary metabolites. Asexual and gamic reproduction. Botanical relevance of plant tissues and plant organs in recognition of plants, in quality control and in the production and accumulation of the food-related ingredients.
- Plant Systematics.
Fundamentals of plant systematics: species concepts, taxonomic groups, and methods in systematic nomenclature. Main families of food, aromatic and poisonous plants. The biological basis of biodiversity and agrobiodiversity.
Poli et al., Biologia farmaceutica. Biologia vegetale, botanica farmaceutica, fitochimica - Con MyLab + eText - Ed. Pearson, 2019.
Teaching will be conducted by favoring active learning methods alternated with lectures dedicated to case studies, aimed at establishing a link between the everyday reality of the students (as consumers and future pharmacists) and the and conventional topics typical of plant biology. Supporting slides will be uploaded on a weekly basis on the Elly platform as well as other in-depth multimedia materials (both in Italian and English) aimed at providing the aforementioned case studies and further elements useful for developing a critical interpretation in the student on the use of medicinal and health food plants. Supporting materials will be made available through the Elly online platform. Slides and other supporting materials here uploaded are considered an integral part of the teaching material and therefore of the exam program.
Assessment methods and criteria
The evaluation of proper skills and knowledge on the different topics of the Animal Biology/Plant Biology class is based on both written and oral examination. The written test, which will last one hour, is based on 12 different questions, 4 of which are open questions while the remaining 8 are multiple choice quizzes (respectively, 6 questions on Animal Biology and 6 on Plant Biology). The final score is generated by 3 points for each correct open question and 1 point for each quiz. Admittance to the spoken examination is allowed with a minimun score of 8 over 10, both in Animal Biology and Plant Biology. A lower score in either one of the two subjects does not allow admittance to the spoken exam. The oral examination is intended to evaluate the student ability to manage a discussion on the Animal Biology and Plant Biology topics using an appropriate scientific and technical language. It is important to remind that the student online registration to the exam is mandatory.