67481 - Molecular Diagnostic And Epidemiology Of Plant Diseases

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Nicoletta Contaldo

  • Learning modules Nicoletta Contaldo (Modulo Mod 1)
    Nicoletta Contaldo (Modulo Mod 2)

  • Credits 6

  • SSD AGR/12

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

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Agricultural Sciences and Technologies (cod. 9235)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale

  • Course Timetable from Feb 23, 2022 to May 20, 2022

    Course Timetable from Apr 27, 2022 to May 27, 2022


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

Zero hunger Good health and well-being Sustainable cities Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Application of diagnostic methodologies for detection and identification of plant infectious agents. Acquiring the knowledge for their molecular characterization and for their interaction with plant hosts as a basis for their epidemic spreading. The student will learn the basic biotechnology information linked to study main infective diseases of agronomic relevance for a correct and sustainable management of most relevant and emerging plant diseases.

Course contents

a) Prerequisites

The student must know the basics plant pathology and physiophatology, as well as the different types of plant disease-causing pathogens. The knowledge of the English language can be of support in deepening the concepts explained.

b) Didactic units

The course consists of two modules.

Module I Epidemiology and diagnostics (4 CFU)

Plant diseases: origin, relationships between diagnostics and epidemiology, diagnosis and disease history, disease symptoms and symptom convergences.

Epidemiology and interaction of pathogens with the environment. Cycle of an infectious disease. Endemic, epidemic and pandemic diseases. Sources and materials for inoculation. Preservation and dissemination of inoculum material. Endophytes and their interaction with pathogens and plant fitness.

Epidemiological aspects of diseases of economic interest and quarantine. Prevention in the epidemiology of plant diseases. Taxonomic bases and their relevance for epidemiology. The importance of the strains.

Epidemiology of major diseases from oomycetes, fungi, bacteria and viruses. Phytoplasmas and phytoplasmosis and other bacterial diseases transmitted by insects: epidemiological cycles.

Module II - Diagnostic methods (2 CFU)

Importance of diagnostics in phytopathology. Direct diagnosis: field visits, recognition of the characteristic symptoms of the different pathogens, sampling and isolation in artificial media. Importance of biological assays and Koch's postulates. Optical and electronic microscopy techniques for diagnostics.

Immunological and molecular diagnostics: DAS-ELISA, PCR, RT-PCR, "multiplex" PCR and quantitative PCR techniques. Use of PCR amplified DNA: RFLP analysis for identification and classification of phytoplasmas; sequencing techniques for the identification of various pathogens. Applications of quantitative PCR: LAMP and NGS sequencing techniques. Limitations of molecular diagnostic methods.


Notes and slides from the lessons online.

Teaching methods

The course consists of lectures accompanied by practical exercises in laboratories, visits to specialized facilities for the diagnosis of plant diseases as well as field visits for direct knowledge of cases of diseases.

Assessment methods

Oral examination consisting of two parts.

1: collection of information and photographic documentation related to one or more diseases (better if from unknown origin) of economic relevance in an agricultural ecosystem. Preparation of a power point presentation with these materials;

2: oral assessment of diagnostic and epidemiological knowledge about plant diseases and pathogens acquired.

The duration of the test is estimated to be around 20-30 minutes. The final grade is assigned based on the degree of preparation of the student and especially on its capabilities and ability to carry out critical connection between different subjects.

In addition to the official dates of exams, the teacher is available by appointment by e-mail, for weekly exams, in agreement with its commitments and institutional research work.

Teaching tools

Computer and projector. Plant pathology diagnostic laboratories. Experimental greenhouses. Optical microscopes. Movies.

Office hours

See the website of Nicoletta Contaldo