28431 - Biology and Management of Plant-probiotic Microflora

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Docente: Marco Bosco
  • Credits: 3
  • SSD: AGR/16
  • Language: Italian
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Ornamental plants and landscape protection (cod. 8523)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the lecture, the student achieves basic knowledge about the biology and ecology of plant-useful microorganisms, and he is able to evaluate the opportunity and the ways to use biofertilizers in the nursery, in ornamental applications and environmental restoration.

Course contents

Essential requirements:

students should hold propaedeutical knowledge from general, inorganic, organic and biological chemistry, pedology, agronomy, nursery techniques. They should know the biology and physiology of plants, and be familiar with chemical and botanical laboratory practics. If these essential requirements are not fulfilled, the studend should inform the teacher who will advise the student how to complete the propaedeutical knowledge. The present lecture is propaedeutical for biological topics taught in Master courses.

Contents of the a theoretical teaching unit: (18 hours):
[Expected results: ability to manage microbiological applications in the ornamental and paysage sectors, and communication to interact, in scientific and technical ways, with other professionals of the sector]
Introduction. Assessment of students propaedeutical knowledge.
Concepts and terms used in microbiology. Definition of microorganisms and holobionts.
Role of microbiota in the evolution and in the conservation of the biosphere.
Principal characteristics of cells from the three domains of life: archaea, bacteria, eukarya.
Microbial nutrition and energetics.
Role of environmental factors in multiplication and control of microorganisms. Introduction to microbial systematics. Biodiversity and applications of plant-useful microflora.
Microorganisms acting as probiotics for plants: their role in the nutrition, protection and environmental fitness of plants used in agroforestry and paysage conservation/ restoration.
Mycorrhizal symbioses: biology, ecology, and plants' useful functions.
Applications and managing techniques for mycorrhizal fungi and plant-probiotic bacteria in the nursery practice (forestry and ornamental).
Microbiological bases of composting and phytoremediation of polluted soils and wastewaters.

Contents of the laboratory teaching unit: (12 hours)
[Expected results: ability to manage with observing methods for plant-useful microorganisms, in laboratory and directly in their environment; ability to evaluate the microbiological quality of soils and nursery-produced plant materials]
Basic hazard/security instructions for a safe experience of laboratory practice.
Classroom demonstration of detection techniques for air-borne microorganisms.
Basic techniques for observing plant-useful microorganisms, in laboratory and directly in their environment.
Slide mounting and staining of microbial preparations from laboratory and environmental samples.
Management of clear-field and phase-contrast optical microscopy observations.
Rhizospheric soil sampling techniques.
Absorbent roots fractionation and sampling.
Setting for decimal serial diluitions in axenic conditions.
Bacterial and fungal vital counting techniques by Petri dish seeding.
Bacterial vital MPN counting technique.
Hystological methods for observing mycorrhizal symbioses.
Results reading, interpretation and communication.


• Some chapters, listed by the professor in class, from the book: “Microbiologia Generale e Agraria". (B.Biavati & C. Solini, Editors). CEA, Milan - Italy, 2012. ISBN 978 8840813943. [available at the Library].

• Additional reading: “Virus e Batteri". M. La Placa, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2011. ISBN9788815149763.
• For some topics and for laboratory practice, additional materials would be accessible on the University of Bologna platform "Virtuale" [https://virtuale.unibo.it/?lang=en] for students enrolled to the present course. Such materials should be downloaded or printed for use during the lessons.

Teaching methods

This lecture is given at the Imola site, by powerpoint presentations and laboratory demostations  developed by the teacher, eventually integrated by specialists seminars and technical visits.

Students with Learning Disorders or Disabilities are kindly invited to contact the dedicated service [http://www.studentidisabili.unibo.it/] and/or the teacher, with adequate advance notice.

The lecture is composed by two units: the first, on theory, is given by powerpoint presentations including examples and scientific logics, with the aim to stimulating student's critical learning.

The second provides hazard/security instructions before going to laboratory, then 3-6 laboratory and greenhouse experiences of 2-4 hours, intended to deepen students skills in detecting plant-probiotic microorganisms.

Assessment methods

The course is part of the Integrated Course 30486 - Applied Genetics and Microbiology, together with the course 28429 - Elements of Plant Genetics. Therefore, the learning assessment, which tests the level of knowledge and skills acquired by the student through the sole final exam, will be performed only at the end of both courses schedules. It consists of an oral exam performed by both teachers, generally composed of three principal questions and eventual other deeping/clarifying questions. The length of oral exam is generally about 30 minutes.

Students with Learning Disorders or Disabilities are kindly invited to contact the dedicated Service and/or the teacher, with adequate advance notice.

Students should demonstrate to know the theory and to be able to link lecture topics with technical problems of applications. Practical skills for field- and benchwork will not be evaluated for the exam final note.

Each question is evaluated a maximum of 30 points. The final note will be calculated by the mean of the three principal or written questions.

On students written request, learning assessment about microbiology can be performed  in English or French languages.

Teaching tools

Internet-connected PC, video projector, overhead projector, slide projector, white board.
Teaching laboratory instruments, teaching greenhouse.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Marco Bosco


Zero hunger Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production Life on land

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.