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Oggetto:

BIOTECHNOLOGY IN AND TOWARDS ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

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BIOTECHNOLOGY IN AND TOWARDS ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

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Academic year 2022/2023

Course ID
BIO0249 Pds GEN
Teachers
Prof. Giorgio Roberto Merlo
Prof. Alessandro Bertero
Prof. Deborah Traversi
Prof. Davide Carmelo Spadaro
Degree course
[0101M22] Molecular Biotechnology
Year
2nd year
Teaching period
Second semester
Type
Elective
Credits/Recognition
4
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
AGR/12 - plant pathology
BIO/13 - experimental biology
MED/42 - hygiene and public health
Delivery
Blended
Language
English
Attendance
Optional
Type of examination
Written and oral (optional)
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Sommario del corso

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Course objectives

This teaching module will qualify the student for the knowledge within a number of fields in which new technologies based on biological systems have been or will be developed to support the transition towards an environmentally sustainable future; from the fuel production to the food industries to the monitoring of environmental impacts on health. Students will appreciate the need of alternative to conventional products damaging the environment (e.g. plastics and animal derivatives from intensive farming & fishing), and the resulting career opportunities. Students will also understand the hazard of new contaminations (e.g. microplastics and endocrine disruptors), and how biotechnology is involved in all aspects from monitoring and testing to technological solutions. The course will stimulate discussion on innovative technologies and efforts towards reduction and/or mitigation.

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Results of learning outcomes

  1. Knowledge and understanding

Upon completion of this course, the student:

  • Will understand the main gaps in the environmental sustainability of production processes and the methodology to assess their environmental impact;
  • Will know the concept technologies based on biological systems for reducing and mitigating environmental and health impacts in relation to their Technology readiness levels (TRLs) for estimating their maturity;
  • Will know the main objective of the International, European and Italian regulation on sustainability;
  1. Applying knowledge and understanding

 

Upon completion of this course, the student:

  • Will be able to identify main driver of environmental impact of a process or of an activity
  • Will be able to apply preventive strategies under a sustainability point of view and to assess the effectiveness of such strategies in their implementation;
  • Will be able to choose technologies based on biological systems among the new applications also referring to the application contest and focussing on the TRLs.
  1. Making judgments

Upon completion of this course, the student:

  • Will be able to reprocess study material (lecture slides, notes, texts) and identify key concepts;
  • Will be able to interpret an environmental impact assessment and an health impact assessment;
  • Will be able to read critically and independently the results of scientific literature on such research filed;
  • Will be able to interpret sustainable biotechnology research results and assess their relevance

 

  1. Communication skills

Upon completion of this course, the student:

  • Will know how to summarize the evidence on sustainability concisely, with emphasis on effectiveness and perspective in the short, medium and long time;
  • Will be able to discuss orally the results of scientific research on sustainable biotechnology
  1. Learning ability

Upon completion of this course, the student will know how to independently consult the scientific literature (including published articles and accredited resources –such as WHO reports, etc.)

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Program

  • The history and development of the Sustainability reaching the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • European and National Sustainability Regulations and Directives, Environmental Impact Assessment and Health Impact Assessment, Environmental accountability and management ISO 14000, Life Cycle Assessment;
  • Waste bio-refinery towards a sustainable biotechnological production (ex. bioremediation of antibiotics, pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon pollutants from aqueous and solid phases and bio-based high value molecule production);
  • Integrated and Life Cycle Cost Assessment for selection of appropriate wastewater treatment system;
  • Environmental microbiota role in the sustainability and human health impact reduction;
  • Conservation of endangered species through stem cell and assisted reproduction technology;
  • “Cellular agriculture”: a sustainable alternative to animal farming and poaching?
  • Cultivated versus plant based and fermentation technologies
  • Key lessons from the regenerative medicine field on the challenges towards producing animal cells and tissues at scale.
  • Packaging and Plastics. What are the alternatives, advantages and disadvantages; recycling vs. degrading;
  • Emerging concerns in environmental contamination (endocrine disruptors and microplastics): their impact of health and how science/technology addresses these;
  • The complex relation between stakeholders: industry, consumers, regulatory agencies, scientist.
  • Use of microorganisms in agriculture: biocontrol agents and plant growth promoters. Fermentation and formulation of microorganisms. Modulation of agricultural microbiomes;
  • GMOs in agriculture;
  • Microorganisms as a source of high value biomolecule production: secondary metabolite clusters;
  • Reduction of food and feed contamination by mycotoxins.
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Course delivery

The lessons will be place in according to the course scheduling in presence. All the materials including slides and integrative documents will be available on the Moodle page of the teaching module.

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Learning assessment methods

The evaluation will be made thought a written test based on close and open questions on the program and/or referring to a specific case study published in the literature. The evaluation will be mainly on the integration of all course material, the thoughtful evaluation of a problem, the benefit of a personal opinion, rather than specific notions.

Suggested readings and bibliography

Title:  
Environmental Biotechnology A Biosystems Approach 2nd Edition
Year of publication:  
2015
Publisher:  
Elsevier
Author:  
Daniel Vallero
ISBN  
Required:  
No
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