Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell'Ambiente - Guida degli insegnamenti (Syllabus)


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Seat Scienze
A.A. 2016/2017
Credits 8
Hours 64
Period 1^ semestre
Language ENG
U-gov code ST01 3S036


The student must be able to conduct literature searches 
Sufficient knowledge of English to understand scientific literature 
Basic knowledge of chemistry, biochemistry and physical-chemistry 
Knowledge of plant cytology, structural organization of plants and algae and of their phylogenetic relationships 

Development of the course

The course will comprise 7 credits (56 hours) of theoretical classes and 1 credit (8 hours) of practical classes. The practical will consist of individual and group exercises in the form of oral discussions, of seminars, and of resolution of numerical problems. Students will also have to analyze and discuss scientific papers on fundamental aspect of plant physiology in class. 
Crucial references will be made available on the e-learning platform. The course will be taught by Prof. Giordano and Prof. Norici, who will conduct their teaching on very strict  coordination.

Learning outcomes

The course will allow the students to acquire basic knowledge on the physiology of photosynthetic organisms, with special attention to the integration of the information for the various parts of the program. 
A conspicuous part of the curse will be devoted to photosynthesis in all its aspects. Subsequently, the student will be called to the comprehension of the interaction of various metabolic pathway for the use of photosynthate and of the regulatory processed mediated by hormones and photoreceptors.

Ability to apply the knowledge:
At the end of the course, in addition to mastering the basic concepts in plant physiology, the student will be able to independently and creatively analyze the primary literature sources and employ them within scientific projects.

Soft skill:
The highly interactive nature of the course will lead the student to develop skills in verbal and written scientific communication and in the critical analyses of literature.


Contents (frontal lectures, 7 CFU, 56 hours):
General principles of photosynthesis and of its evolution in relation to environmental changes over Earth history 
Capture and use of light radiation:  general properties of molecules involved in light capture. The process of light absorption. Photosynthetic pigments. Structure of antennae and energy transfer within antennae. Connections between antennae and reaction centers. Structure and function of reaction center of anoxigenic and oxigenic photosynthetic organisms. Electron transport (cyclic and non cyclic) in anoxigenic and oxigenic photosynthetic organisms. 
Chemosmotic theory and ATP synthesis
Use of inorganic carbon for the synthesis of organic matter: Ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase; structure, catalysis, regulation. Calvin cycle. Photorespiration. C4 photosynthesis. CAM plants. Energetic consideration on organic biosynthesis.
Biosynthesis and degradation of starch and sucrose: the hexose phosphate  pool. Triose phosphates synthesized in the chloroplast build up the pool of hexose phosphates in the cytosol. Pi translocator. Chloroplast starch synthesis during the day and degradation during the night. 
Translocation in the phloem. Pathways and patterns of translocation. Materials translocated. The pressure-flow model for phloem transport. Phloem loading and unloading. Sink-to-Source transition. Photosynthate distribution: allocation and partitioning.
Water transport processes. Diffusion and osmosis. Water potential in plant cells. Water status of a plant. Water in the soil and absorption by roots. Water transport through xylem. Water movement from the leaf to the atmosphere.
Plant hormones: auxin, gibberellins, cytokinins, ethylene, abscisic acid.
Red and blue light responses. Photochemical and biochemical properties of phytochrome. Characteristics of phytochrome induced responses. Structure and function. Circadian rhythms. Ecological functions. Blue-light photoreceptors and photophysiology of the responses. Stomatal movements and morphogenesis.

Development of the examination

Methods for assessing learning outcomes:
The exam will be written. Two hours and a half will be given for its completion. It will be constituted by open questions, schematic representation of key concepts, calculations and multiple-choice questions. 

Criteria for assessing learning outcomes: 
The acquisition of knowledge will be assessed on the basis of the ability to identify the main concepts, describe them exhaustively and with appropriate terminology and non-stereotypical expressions and apply them in schematic representations and calculations.

Criteria for measuring learning outcomes:
The open questions will be evaluated based on the matching of the answer to the question, completeness of the answer, clarity and appropriateness of terminology, ability to select the important aspects of the matter at hand.
In the schematic representation, the students must graphically represent a concept. Also in this case, the evaluation will be based on the ability to make the important aspects emerge and to represent them exhaustively and clearly.
Calculations will be evaluated based on the correctness of the result and of the procedure followed (a brief text description of the procedure will be requested). Multiple-choice questions will comprise 5 answers. A point will be attributed if all correct answers will be indicated. 

Criteria for conferring final mark:
The open questions will contribute to the final score for 40%; the marks obtained for schematic representation and calcultaion exercises will constitute 30% of the final score; the multiple choice question will attribute 30% of the final score.

Recommended reading

Buchanan, Gruissem and Jones. Biochimica e Biologia molecolare delle Piante. Zanichelli 
Taiz and Zeiger. Plant Physiology Sinauer Assoc 
Scientific papers that will be indicated during the course

  • Scienze biologiche

Università Politecnica delle Marche
P.zza Roma 22, 60121 Ancona
Tel (+39) 071.220.1, Fax (+39) 071.220.2324
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