66034 - Breeding And Biotechnology Applied To Fruit Trees

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 Responsible consumption and production Climate Action Life on land

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The main learning outcomes of these lectures can be summarized as follows: i. to understand problematics related to fruit tree breeding; ii. to know the bases of the main biotechnology techniques; iii. to know the main biotechnology applications in fruit tree species.

Course contents

Pre-requisite: Students entering this course need the base knowledge on plant genetics and breeding for the understanding of the subject matter of the course. A good English knowledge is also required to understand some of the provided handouts.

The course is organized in 4 main teaching units:

Part 1 (12 hours) - Peculiarity of fruit trees breeding. Biodiversity: origin centers, collection and preservation. Breeding process in fruit crops. Double pseudo-testcross. Breeding methods in self-compatible, self-incompatible and dioecious species. Spontaneous mutations and chimerism. Induced mutations.

Part 2 (8 hours) - Genetic control and breeding methods for the main fruit crop traits: adaptation to environment, growth habit, reproduction biology, yield components, fruit traits, disease resistance. Rootstock breeding.

Part 3 (8 hours) - In vitro culture in fruit trees. In vitro morphogenesis and regeneration. Embryo-rescue. Cell culture. Early selection in vitro. Somaclonal variation. Protoplasts and somatic hybridisation. Haploids. Genetic transformation in fruit trees and applications.

Part 4 (8 hours) - Introduction to fruit tree biotechnology and applications of molecular markers in fruit tree species. Construction of molecular maps in fruit trees and identification of markers linked to traits, marker-assisted selection. Fruit trees genomic sequences.

Practical works (24 hours) – Visits to germplasm collections and breeding plots. Controlled crosses technique and seedling management and evaluation (i.e. resistance tests). In vitro experiment on morphogenesis in fruit tree species. Databases of genomic fruit tree sequences and sequence analysis tools. Reading, comprehension and presentation of a scientific paper on fruit tree genetic transformation.


Handouts and selected scientific papers.

Teaching methods

The course features up to 60% of the hours in the classroom, and the remaining 40% as practical activities in fields and labs.

Assessment methods

The student preparation is assessed via an oral exam, covering all teaching units. The goal of the evaluation is to assess the overall knowledge acquired by each students and their capacity to recognize and address problems related to fruit tree breeding and biotechnology. The evaluation consists of two questions on the course content. The length of the oral exam is about 20-30 minutes.

Teaching tools

PC, Beamer, web connection, equipment in the biotechnology lab, field and greenhouse visits.

Office hours

See the website of Stefano Tartarini