00445 - Plant Physiology

Course Unit Page


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

Zero hunger Responsible consumption and production Climate Action

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student assimilates with a critical and in-depth view, at the molecular level, the main themes of plant physiology (transport, photosynthesis, metabolism, mineral nutrition, photomorphogenesis and hormonal regulation), also taking advantage of an intensive personalized laboratory.

Course contents

Membrane transport, cell water relationships and mineral nutrition. Proton pumps. Electrochemical potential of solutes and transport through membranes. Forces that affect water movements at the cellular level: hydrostatic and osmotic pressure. Water potential and its components. Mechanisms of stomata opening and closing. Water potential in the soil. Soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. Radical pressure and guttation. Transpiration and cohesion-tension theory. Atmospheric water potential. Essential nutrients. Mineral nutrition in agriculture. Mycorrhizae. The case of iron.

Photosynthesis and metabolism. Light. Chloroplasts. Photosynthetic pigments. Structure and function of the photosystem II. Cytochrome b6f and cycle Q. Structure and function of the photosystem I. ATP synthase of chloroplasts. Scheme Z. Linear and cyclic photosynthetic electron transport. Rubisco and the Calvin Benson cycle. Photorespiration. Regulation by thioredoxins. C4 and CAM metabolism. Photosynthetic yield. Net and gross photosynthesis. Metabolism of starch and sucrose. Sink-source relationships.

Nitrogen assimilation. Absorption and reduction of nitrate to ammonium. Assimilation of ammonium. Aromatic amino acid biosynthesis: glyphosate and transgenic plants.

Photoreceptors. Scoto and photomorphogenesis. Plant photoreceptors. Phytochromes: photoconversion, translocation in the nucleus and modification of gene expression. Shade avoidance response.  


Rascio N (2017) Elementi di Fisiologia vegetale. EdiSES, third edition

Teaching methods

The course will consists in lectures with projection of pictures and diagrams (power point). Questions are always welcome, both during and after the lectures.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of a written test and an oral examination. Only students who have passed the threshold of sufficiency in the written test are admitted at the oral examination.

Teaching tools

The course will take place in classrooms with PC projection. All lectures will be given with power point presentations. The files of power point presentations will be made available to students (IOL).

Office hours

See the website of Paolo Bernardo Trost

See the website of Mirko Zaffagnini