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Biotechnology for sustainable agrifood system


Biotechnology for sustainable agrifood system


Academic year 2022/2023

Course ID
BIO0249C Pds GEN
Prof. Davide Carmelo Spadaro
Modular course
Degree course
[0101M22] Molecular Biotechnology
2nd year
Teaching period
Second semester
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
AGR/12 - plant pathology
Formal authority
Type of examination

Sommario del corso


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; in particular in the agricultural and food system.

Students will know the biological and genetic methods useful to reduce pesticide and fertilizer use in agriculture. They will explore molecular diagnostics and monitoring tools to detect beneficial microorganisms and plant pathogens. Students will also understand the hazard of food contaminations (e.g. mycotoxins and pesticide residues), and how biotechnology is involved in all aspects from monitoring and testing to technological solutions.

The module will stimulate discussion on assessment of innovative technologies impact.


Results of learning outcomes

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.

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.

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

 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

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.)


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.


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.



The kingdom of Fungi.

Microorganisms as a source of high value biomolecule production. Secondary metabolism of fungi.

Detection and mionitoring of microorganisms.

Use of microorganisms in agriculture. Biocontrol agents and plant growth promoters. Fermentation and formulation of microorganisms. Modulation of agricultural microbiomes.

GMOs in agriculture.

Reduction of food and feed contamination by mycotoxins.

Suggested readings and bibliography

Last update: 15/03/2023 22:55
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