68019 - Elements of General Biology

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will: (a) have basic knowledges allowing the use of specific terminology and the understanding of a scientific text of medium complexity; basic knowledges in general biology (structure and functions of the pro- and eukaryotic cell, cellular respiration and photosyntesis, principles of genetics, etc) and of the anatomy/physiology of human systems and apparatuses); be able to analyse and critically discuss the fundamental aspects of human health and well-being (specific parasites of scholastic interest, correct nutrition, good life practices for prevention, etc); is able to suggest how to build didactic units on the different topics for the specific educational level.

Course contents

Macromolecules : carbohydrates , lipids , proteins and nucleic acids. The prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Autotrophic and heterotrophic metabolism. The 6 kingdoms.

The eukaryotic cell. Biological membranes: structure and functions; exo and endocytosis.

Structure and functions of the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi apparatus. The lysosomes. The mitochondria. Cellular respiration and photosyntesis. The peroxisomes.

The cytoskeleton: microfilaments, microtubules and intermediate filaments. Cellular communication.

The nucleus. Duplication and transcription. Translation: genetic code and protein synthesis .

Cell division : mitosis and meiosis . The asexual and sexual reproduction .

Heredity: genes, alleles, characters, genotype and phenotype. Mendel’s 1st and 2nd law. Incomplete dominance and co-dominance .

Mendel’s 3rd law and genetic association. Gene interactions and epistasis. Quantitative inheritance. Pleiotropy. Lethal genes.

Sex-linked inheritance. Genotypic and environmental sex determination .

Heredity and environment.

Genic, chromosomal and genomic mutations.

The origin of life: the prebiotic synthesis, the RNA world, compartmentalization, prokaryotic cells, the symbiotic theory for the origin of eukaryotic cells. The origin and diversification of multicellular organisms. The theory of Evolution.

Other topics of specific interest will be defined with students.


- Notes on AMS Campus (1st part of the course)

- Insegnare la biologia ai bambini (Dalla scuola dell’infanzia al primo ciclo d’istruzione) - G. Santovito, Ed. Carocci

- Principi di Biologia - Campbell, Reece et al., Ed. Pearson

- Biologia - Sadava et al., Ed. Zanichelli

Teaching methods

The course will be developed through frontal lessons and the discussion / design of didactic units dealing with the main topics addressed in the course.

Assessment methods

The assessment will take place through the presentation of a written didactic unit chosen by the student (to be delivered 10 days before the assessment day at the Dipartimento BiGeA, Via Selmi 3) and the oral answer to three specific questions on the topics dealt with during the course.

Final score based on ../30.

The students can attend the exam at each exam session.

Student's score will be registered within 5 days from the exam.

Teaching tools

.ppt presentations

Office hours

See the website of Barbara Mantovani