Anno Accademico 2023/2024

  • Docente: Lucia Vannini
  • Crediti formativi: 6
  • SSD: AGR/16
  • Lingua di insegnamento: Inglese
  • Moduli: Lucia Vannini (Modulo 1) Paola Mattarelli (Modulo 2)
  • Modalità didattica: Convenzionale - Lezioni in presenza (Modulo 1) Convenzionale - Lezioni in presenza (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Laurea Magistrale in Precise and Sustainable Agriculture (cod. 5705)

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

The course will provide students with knowledge on: technologies for the selection and use of microorganisms for the biocontrol and bio stimulation of the soil-plant system; microbial technologies for the transformation of agro-industrial residues and by-products for the production of matrixes of interest for the agricultural sector; microbial technologies for the production of molecules or products with high added value of interest for the agro-food sector. In particular, the student will be able to: set up microbiological processes for the valorization of wastes, residues and by-products; understand the role of microorganisms in the agro-food industry and agriculture in a circular economy context; use the acquired knowledge in the management of biotechnological processes in a context of sustainable agriculture.


The course is organized into 2 modules.

Module 1 – Prof.ssa Vannini (3 CFU)

Introduction to the module: introducing the teacher, overview on the aims and main topics addressed, how teaching material is provided to students, timing of lessons, how final exam is carried out.

- Main strategies and biotechnological processes for the valorisation of agri-food wastes, residues and by-products into added- value compounds and products

  • Feed-stocks for white biotechnology processing: agricultural and forest biomass, and agro-food industry by-products, effluents, waste and surplus.
  • Criteria for microorganism selection and optimisation of the biotechnological processes in relation to the side streams/by products considered and the final target product to be obtained
  • Bioplastics – main characteristics in relation to the origin, feedstock and biodegradability. Types of biopolymers - PLA: role of lactic acid bacteria, properties and market. PHA: production from pure and mixed cultures, metabolic pathways, properties of the biopolymers. Global production of bioplastics and main uses in agriculture. Case study on commercial products.
  • Bioethanol - global bioethanol uses and production. Types of production processes from different raw materials: 1st generation and 2nd generation bioethanol; main feedstocks; role of yeasts and key metabolic features; strategies to increase the efficiency of industrially relevant yeast strains.
  • Biogas – metabolic process and substrates for methanogenesis. Bioreactor configurations for methanogenesis: free- and immobilized-cell reactors.
  • Biohydrogen – types of production process and microorganisms used: photofermentation, dark fermentation and production by algae.

- Strategies to reduce food loss and waste along the food chain: use of biocontrol agents and natural antimicrobials. Case studies on available solutions.

- Procedures and analytical methods to evaluate the microbiological quality and safety of agricultural products: lab training on microbiological analysis of and agricultural product.


Module 2 – Prof.ssa Mattarelli (3 CFU)

Introduction to the module: overview on the aims, topics addressed, delivery of teaching material and mode of final examination.

Brief review of general microbiology: it will be managed on the basis of the general microbiology knowledge of the cohort of students (4-5 hours).

Taxonomy of bacteria and fungi as the basis for the study of microbial biodiversity. Nagoya protocol: guidelines for studying and patenting microorganisms

Culture-dependent and culture-independent techniques for studying microorganisms: a polyphasic approach for identifying and characterizing microorganisms.

Phyllosphere and rhyzisphere: important habitats for plant microbiota.

Plant-soil microrganims associations: Plant Growth-Promoting Bacteria (PGPB), mycorrhizal symbioses, bioactive molecules, quorum sensing, biofilm, VOC

Antimicrobial defense: principles and mechanisms of cell inactivation. Antibiotic resistance diffusion, with a focus on agricultural systems

Polluted soils and wastewaters: application of phytoremediation.


In consideration of the types of activities and teaching methods adopted, the attendance of this training activity (practical lab work) requires the performance of all students of Modules 1 and 2 in e-learning modules and the 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.


- Lecture slides provided during the course through the Virtual Learning Environment platform
- Papers on specific topics suggested by the teacher

Metodi didattici

The course includes theoretical and practical class lectures, laboratory activities, problem solving, case studies and seminars.

Modalità di verifica e valutazione dell'apprendimento

The final examination will be based on an oral assessment aimed at evaluating knowledge and skills on general and practical aspects presented during the course on the role of microorganisms in the agricultural sector, their uses for the valorization of agro-industrial residues and by-products into value-added products and for the benefit of the environment in a circular economy context.


The final grade for the integrated course of Biotechnology for Sustainability will be calculated as weighted average of the scores obtained in the two modules of Microbial Biotechnology for Sustainable Processes (6 CFU) and Genetics and Biotechnology for Resilient Crops (6 CFU).

Prof.ssa Lucia Vannini is in charge for recording the final grade in AlmaEsami.

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

Slides of the lectures and lab training activities will be available for all the enrolled students as pdf files through the web-site: "Virtual Learning Environment"

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Lucia Vannini

Consulta il sito web di Paola Mattarelli


Sconfiggere la fame Consumo e produzione responsabili La vita sulla terra

L'insegnamento contribuisce al perseguimento degli Obiettivi di Sviluppo Sostenibile dell'Agenda 2030 dell'ONU.