59157 - Plants, Environment and Society

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Annalisa Tassoni

  • Learning modules Annalisa Tassoni (Modulo 1)
    Maura Ferri (Modulo 2)

  • Credits 6

  • SSD BIO/01

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures (Modulo 1)
    Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme First cycle degree programme (L) in Natural Sciences (cod. 8016)

  • Course Timetable from Oct 07, 2021 to Jan 14, 2022


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

Good health and well-being Responsible consumption and production Climate Action Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The student will acquire knowledge about the relationship between plants and environment and the consequent implications on the society. Different aspects of the modern or alternative use of plants will be taken into consideration and the student will be able to associate plant structural and functional characteristics with their influence upon environmental and economical sustainability and human health. By means of laboratory experiences, the student will realise how science (in particular plant biotechnology) is the basis of technology and knowledge progress for the use of plant in modern society. Specific student interests will be valorised and personal detailed study will be encouraged.

Course contents

The course will deal with different aspects of the use of plants in the modern society.

Lectures (Module 1 - Prof. Annalisa Tassoni)

  • Cell cultures of plant tissues and organs. Applications to the production and regeneration of new plants. Applications to the production of nutraceutical and pharmaceutical compounds. The active metabolites of plant origin and their use for human health.
  • Transgenic plants. How to produce them and what are they useful for. Italian, European and world regulations. How does society perceives them? What is their real impact on the environment and human health? The study cases of golden rice and rainbow papaya.
  • Plants and food. What to eat and how to eat it? Plants and human health (positive and negative aspects). Allergies and food and environmental intolerances: what is the role of plants?
  • Alimurgic plants: common plants, ancient remedies and traditions.
  • Dyeing plants: traditions and modern uses.
  • Phytoremediation: the use of plants in reducing environmental pollution.
  • The plants as bio-indicators of pollution.
  • Urban plants as bio-indicators of climate change.
  • Positive and negative interactions of plants with human artifacts (monuments and architectural works).
  • Palynology: the use of the study of pollen in different areas of modern society (e.g. the study of climate change, criminology, archeology, food contamination).
  • The plants as a source of energy. The use of plant organisms for the production of biofuels.
  • Biorefineries: reuse of industrial and agricultural plant wastes for the production of energy and new molecules useful in daily life.
  • What are bioplastics? Production of bioplastics and new sustainable materials from agro-industrial vegetable waste and residues.

Laboratory practicals (Module 2 - Dr. Maura Ferri)

  • Plant cell cultures: culture media preparation, sterilisation and cutting of the explants, establishment of in vitro cultures in sterile conditions.
  • Bioactive molecules characterisation in food via spectrophotometric assays: total polyphenols, antioxidant activity and reducing sugars quantifications.
  • Evaluation of plant phytoremediation activity and heavy metal adsorption.
  • Evaluation of cell culture growth and discussion about obtained results.

PLEASE NOTE. To be able to attend the laboratory, students must possess the certification of the Modules 1 and 2 for laboratory safety


Power point presentations of the lessons downloadable from the Virtuale website.

Use of popular and scientific articles and book chapters on various topics provided by the teacher and also proposed by the students.

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons with power point presentations. For laboratory experiences, protocols will be provided in paper format and students will have to carry out the experiments personally.

The theoretical and practical teaching activities will take place regularly in the presence / mixed mode for all students compatibly with the health conditions and with the regulations in force relating to the COVID-19 emergency.

In case of restricted access to the University spaces, students are requested to register on the Present app.

In consideration of the types of activities and teaching methods adopted, the attendance of this training activity requires the performance of all students of modules 1 and 2 in e-learning mode and participation in module 3 of specific training on safety and health in the places of study. Information on dates and methods of attendance of module 3 can be consulted in the specific section of the degree program website.

Assessment methods

Module 1: Choice of one topic in-line with the phylosophy of the course and after agreement with the teacher and preparation (with use of bibliography researched by the student) of a 20-minute power point presentation to be publicly exposed to the teacher and fellow students. The quality of the presentation will lead to a maximum score of 27/30 points.

Module 2: The notions acquired during the laboratory practicals will be verified through multiple choice tests, that will take place in the same day before the oral presentation of the ppt, and will lead to the acquisition of a maximum of 3/30 points. Therefore the attendance to the practical lessons is highly recommended.

The sum of the two evaluations will lead to the final grade.

Teaching tools

Power point lectures downloadable from the Virtuale platform. Laboratory practicals. Seminars given by professors specifically expert in the different subjects of the programme

Office hours

See the website of Annalisa Tassoni

See the website of Maura Ferri