76454 - Quality and Safety of Food of Plant Origin in the Animal Diet

Course Unit Page


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

Zero hunger Good health and well-being Clean water and sanitation Life on land

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

The course provides the knowledge to prevent and reduce the risks and the main problems associated with the inappropriate management of food of plant origin used in animal diet; it also provides the expertise to recognize the morpho-functional features of plants, microorganisms associated with plants as epiphytes or endophytes and the main nutritional and anti-nutritional factors of plant or microbial origin which may condition the quality and safety of food. At the end of the course the student knows the interactions of animal pathogen with the plant resident microflora, the analytical methods and the portable instruments for qualitative analysis of microbial contaminants of food and the genetic engineering technology to improve plant nutritional value.

Course contents

Plant Biology

Structure and function of plant cell; plant tissues, anatomical and functional characteristics of leaf, stem and root.

Plant habitats: phyllosphere, carposhere, rhizosphere and spermosphere. Plant interactions with endophytic, epiphytic or symbiotic bacteria and fungi: main features, ecological, economic and veterinary relevance.

Plant microbiota: role in plant defense against pathogens and the abiotic stresses, in the plant intake of nutrients, in plant metabolism and growth, and in the production of molecules of biotechnological interest.

Angiosperms: main monocots and dicots used as animal feed.

Quality of food of plant origin

Animal pathogens in plants. Foodborne diseases caused by animal pathogens contaminating plant products. Sources of contamination. Incidence of enteric pathogens in plants. Plant as non-host habitat. Attachment, growth and survival of animal pathogens on plant surfaces. Common disease mechanisms used by pathogens of plants and animals. Interactions of animal pathogens with the resident microflora of plants. Strategies to prevent and control diseases caused by animal pathogens contaminating food of plant origin.

The plant immune system: the main anti-nutritional substances produced by plant immunity. Microbial toxins and substances expressed during the anti-stress responses of plant tissues. Classification of anti-nutritional factors according to the “World Food Programme of the United Nations”: enzyme inhibitors, lectins, glycoproteins, glucosinolates, saponins, gossypol, phytic acid, tannins, cyanogens, characteristics of the main mycotoxins and IARC classification; pathogenesis related proteins; phytoanticipins; phytoalexins; proteases and protease inhibitors. Detection of anti-nutritional substances: non-invasive and portable instruments for qualitative analysis.

Genetically modified food of plant origin

Genetic engineering technology to improve plant nutritional value based on metabolomics, gene silencing, RNA interference and genome editing. Antibiotic resistance control: technology based on CRISPR/CAS interference. Plants as models for the study of animal pathogenesis to identify virulence factors essential to induce the disease and logical targets for the development of antimicrobials and therapeutics.

Food safety: issues concerning the recruitment of foods genetically modified and non-modified.


Reference material will be provided during the lectures or it will be available to students in electronic format through internet.

To get the teaching materials select "E-learning activities and content" from the teacher's website: https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/paola.minardi/teachings

Teaching methods

Lectures. Seminars with experts on quality certification procedures and organic certification (GMO-free). Working groups - agreed with students - on specific topics. Establish criteria for proper literature search by using "ALMARE: Network Databases" SBA (the University Library System), the "Proxy" for the remote connection to ALMARE collections and document delivery service " NILDE "(Network Inter-Library Document Exchange).

Assessment methods

The assessment of learning occurs through an oral exam (approximately 30 minutes). Special attention is drawn to critical and logical thinking and to properly explaining skills.

The oral exam aims to assess the achievement of the learning objectives and to verify the acquisition of the knowledge required by the course program.

Special attention will be paid to the student's ability to reason critically, connecting various parts of the program and different methodologies. Moreover, the appropriate use of technical languages it is strongly encouraged.

The Student evaluation is a vote based on two elements: a) acquired knowledge (50%); b) critical approach to and elaboration of specific topics/problems (50%).

If the Student combines deep knowledge and high critical abilities, together with a full control of the relationships between technical issues will be awarded with the highest grades (28/30 to 30/30 cum laude).

Moderate lack of knowledge or imprecisions in both elements will result in grades from 24/30 up to 27/30.

A limited knowledge of basic concepts, with a poor ability to discuss relationships between issues, together with technical imprecisions will result in grades between 18/30 and 23/30.

Teaching tools

Videoprojector, computer, powerpoint presentations. Supplementary notes and teaching materials will be available to students in electronic format through internet. To get the teaching materials select "E-learning activities and content" from the teacher's website: https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/paola.minardi/teachings

Office hours

See the website of Paola Minardi