88399 - Bioactive molecules from marine organisms

Course Unit Page


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

Good health and well-being Clean water and sanitation Affordable and clean energy Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is to provide expertise on marine, animal and plant organisms, which can represent a source of bioactive compounds, thus leading to the economic enhancement of sea resources. The student will acquire skills on the most relevant organisms for these applications, on the biological functions of already identified bioactive molecules and on their industrial and / or biomedical application, on the methodologies for the compatible production of biomass from which to extract the molecules, on the bioactive molecules already in production and on possible innovative developments.

Course contents

Part 1 - Plant organisms

  • Definition of marine biotechnologies, sectors to which they are addressed, stages of product development, from the discovery of organisms to commercialization.
  • Physiological bases of microalgae cultivation. Algal biomass production methods: culture operativity, industrial cultivation systems (photobioreactors and open ponds), characteristics of the production process, concepts of biorefinery and bio-factory.
  • Commercial production of pigments and polyunsaturated fatty acids extracted from algae and parameters which influence the production. Innovative trends in the production of bioactive molecules (UV screens, compounds with antibacterial, antiviral, anticarcinogenic activity).
  • Algae as a renewable energy source. Algae-based bioremediation systems: bioremediation of urban wastewater and of discharges contaminated with heavy metals.
  • Molecular methods for the identification of species and bases for the genetic transformation of marine plant cells.

Module 2 - Animal Organisms

  • Model taxonomic classes for the isolation of bioactive molecules and biomaterials: physiological characteristics
  • The influence of the environment on the synthesis of bioactive molecules in marine animals
  • Main applications in the biotechnological field:
  1. Bioactive molecules for pharmaceuticals
  2. Biomaterials and biocompatible materials
  3. The study of biostructures for the definition of new physical properties for synthetic materials
  4. New technologies and production systems for aquaculture


Reviews or chapters on specific topics

Scientific articles in English provided to students and illustrated and discussed during the lessons.

Course files will be available in AMS Campus starting from the beginning of the lessons.

Teaching methods

Oral lectures

Assessment methods

Oral examination.

The exam aims to assess the mastery and the ability to deal critically with the topics covered during the lessons.

Teaching tools

Powerpoint, scientific articles, multimedia material. Discussion in the classroom. Visit to a microalgae production plant.

Office hours

See the website of Rossella Pistocchi

See the website of Silvia Franzellitti