66989 - Plant Biology and Diversity (A-L)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student will have acquired basic knowledge on all aspects of plant biology : cytology, histology, anatomy, sexual/asexual reproduction, physiology, and evolution. The student will also become acquainted with the basic characteristics of the Fungi and with other photosynthetic taxa (algae, cyanobacteria).

Course contents

INTRODUCTION: The various branches of plant biology and historical notes. Principal characteristics of plants and their uses for Man. Forms of nutrition (autotrophy, heterotrophy). Main chemical constituents of living cells (water, essential elements, carbohydrates, proteins, lipids).

CYTOLOGY: The plant cell (size, shape, organization). Structure and function of organelles: Plastids (structure, functions, ontogenesis and interconversion). Chloroplasts (ultrastructure, genome, pigments, size and shape) and non-green plastids. Algal plastids. Vacuoles. Dictyosomes, Microbodies. Cytoskeleton. Plant cell walls (primary and secondary). Cell growth (division, expansion) and differentiation.

MORPHOLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (thallophytes, cormophytes) and evolution of land plants.

HISTOLOGY AND ANATOMY of vascular plants: Classification and function of tissues. Intercellular connections (plasmodesmata, pits). Meristems (primary, secondary, adventitious) and meristemoids. Adult tissues (tegumental, mechanical, vascular, parenchyma, secretory): cytology and functions. Anatomy (primary and secondary structure) of stems and roots.

PHYSIOLOGY: The carbon cycle. Photosynthetic pigments. Photosynthesis (light/dark cycle, C4 plants, Crassulacean Acid Metabolism). Photorespiration. Nitrogen cycle and photosynthetic reduction of nitrogen. The legume-Rhizobium symbiosis. Secondary metabolites (chemical structures, functions in plants, uses). Xylem and phloem transport.

REPRODUCTION IN VASCULAR PLANTS: Sexual plant reproduction (Angiosperms). Seed germination. Vegetative propagation

MORPHOGENESIS: Embryogenesis. Programmed cell death. Plant hormones (definition, functions, methods of analysis).

BIOTECHNOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS. Plant tissue culture. Genetic transformation.

BIODIVERSITY: Origin and evolutionary history of life on earth. Cyanobacteria and Proclorophytes. Life cycles of representative organisms from the fungi, photosynthetic protists and land plants. Main characteristics of some Angiosperm families (Solanaceae, Fabaceae, etc.)

PRACTICAL SESSIONS (LABORATORY): Preparation, use of histochemical dyes (e.g. phloroglucinol), and observation under a light microscope of sections of leaves, stems and roots of different types; "in vitro" germination and vitality tests on pollen of different species.


MAUSETH - Botanica - Parte Generale e Biodiversità (Idelson Gnocchi)

PASQUA e altri – Biologia Cellulare e Biotecnologie Vegetali (Piccin)

PASQUA e altri – Botanica Generale e Diversità Vegetale (Piccin)

LONGO - Biologia vegetale: Forme e Funzioni (UTET)

LONGO e MARZIANI – Biologia delle Piante (UTET)

PUPILLO e altri - Biologia Vegetale (Zanichelli )

SPERANZA e CALZONI – Struttura delle Piante in Immagini (ed. Zanichelli)

HOPKINS e HÜNER – Fisiologia Vegetale (McGraw-Hill)

TAIZ e ZEIGER – Fisiologia Vegetale (Piccin)

Teaching methods

 lectures with Power Point slides; practical training in hands-on lab sessions

Assessment methods

A written exam (identification and description of an anatomical section plus two other questions) lasting one hour followed (on the same day) by an oral examination.

Teaching tools

photocopies of the main slides projected during lectures; print-outs with detailed descriptions of the material observed in the lab sessions.

Office hours

See the website of Stefania Biondi

See the website of Licia Podda