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Study plan

Firts Year (54 CFU)        
Course CFU Period Language Objectives and content of the course
Climate change and its effects on agro-environment and agricultural production 6 1st semester Italian Objectives: to provide knowledge on the tools and methodologies suitable for  studying the role of climate change on ecosystems management and about the elements characterizing the role that climate change will have on ecosystems and the strategies that we will have to
adopt to manage climate change (mitigation and adaptation strategies). Content: Concept of greenhouse effect. The extent of climate change. Entity of responses from the major ecosystems. Mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change. Tools and methodologies for studying the impact of climate change and the mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Energy and biomaterials from microbial processes 6 1st semester Italian Objectives: to provide students with knowledge on (i) the most advanced environmentally-sustainable processes for energy production with microorganisms; (ii)  the main processes of microbial biotechnology applied in environmental and industrial applications, with particular reference to the production of biopolymers and of molecules of industrial interest in processes with low environmental impact. Content: Microbial processes for biotechnological hydrogen production: microorganisms, metabolic pathways, critical issues. Biogas from anaerobic digestion of agricultural residues: microorganisms, substrates and processes in use. Bio-alcohols by fermentation of plant residues. Biodiesel from microalgae: processeses, advantages and drawbacks. Microbial electrolysis. Microbial biopolymers (polysaccharides, polyesters). Molecules of industrial interest produced by microorganisms.
Bioeconomy and environmental policies  6 1st semester Italian Objectives: to provide students with elements of environmental assessment to enable them to estimate the economic, social and environmental effects of agricultural and forestry development projects and to identify the best alternatives based on principles of environmental sustainability. Content: Environmental issues. The principles of sustainability of the economic system and the development of renewable resources. Economic Evaluation of Environmental Goods. The evaluation of the visual aesthetic component: the landscape. Non-monetary evaluation of environmental goods. Applications of monetary evaluation.
Genetics and environmental genomics 6 1st semester Italian Objectives: to provide students with tools for understanding approaches of genetics and of environmental genomics analysis. Topics: Profiles of gene expression, toxicology and environmental mutagenesis, assessment of environmental risk at the genetic level, conservation genetics (contribution of genetics to environmental management and conservation, genetic ecology and environmental restoring), genetic improvement and biotechnology (“traditional” genetic improvement, genetic engineering and genetic improvement through assisted selection in response to environmental stresses).
Statistics for biotechnology 6 2nd semester Italian Objectives: to provide students with tools for planning and performing statistical analysis of agrobiotechnological studies using open source computational resources. Content: Descriptive statistics; probability calculation and random variables; Bayesian and frequentist statistical inference; generalized linear models; hypothesis testing and decisions.
Environmental analytical chemistry 6 2nd semester Italian Objectives: to provide knowledge on the tools and methodologies suitable for the sampling, detection and measurement of the typical environmental contaminants present at trace level. Content: the most important classes of pollutants; emerging organic pollutants; methods of sampling and treatment of environmental samples; main extraction and analytical techniques; quality control of analytical data; environmental toxicology and risk assessment.
Biotechnology for soil study and recovery 6 2nd semester Italian Objectives: to provide knowledge on the fundamental concepts about the soil system and on the impact of soil pollution on the biogeochemical cycles of the elements. Content:E11The constituents of the soil system; soil functionality in agro-ecosystems; rhizodepositions and processes in the rhizosphere; the responses of the soil system to climate change and technologies for climate impact mitigation; degradation and pollution of the soil with the illustration of biotechnologies applied to real case studies; sustainable management of polluted soils and sites; models used for soil assessment and conservation.
Molecular plant pathology and eco-sustainable control  6 2nd semester Italian Objectives: to provide students with theoretical-practical knowledge and tools on the role of biotechnology (i) in understanding the plant-phytopathogen molecular interactions and in the applications deriving from it ; (ii) in  identifying innovative and multidisciplinary eco-sustainable strategies to meet the challenges in fighting  plant diseases deriving from ongoing climate change. Topics: Molecular plant pathology: genetic and molecular determinants of pathogenicity / virulence, resistance / susceptibility, in the context of host-pathogen relationships. Genomics and OMICS applied to phytopathogenic microorganisms and to the understanding of plant-pathogen dialogue. Biotechnology and molecular plant pathology to respond to the challenges arising from climate change and invasive and alien pathogens
Optional training courses*  6     Courses  chosen by the student (see the didactic regulation).
Second  Year (66 CFU)        
Biotechnology for eco-sustainable livestock production 9 1st semester Italian Objectives: to provide knowledge of the impact of climate change on livestock production and to propose biotechnological tools for its reduction in the breeding systems of the main species of zootechnical interest. Topics: the latest biotechnology techniques aimed at reducing the climatic impact of animal breeding in the main mono and polygastric species (cattle, sheep, pigs). The areas of interest are: Nutrition; Breeding systems; Physiology of reproduction; Use of genomic tools for animal production.
Microbial biotechnologies for environment and soil protection** 6 1st semester English Objectives: to provide knowledge about the use of microbes in the protection of soil, water and atmosphere and in the mitigation of the impact of climate changes. Topics: Use of microorganisms for contrasting soil degradation and mitigating the negative impact of climate change on soil. Use of microorganisms for the production of biofertilizers and biostimulants.
Biotechnological applications for sustainable crop production** 9 1st semester English Objectives: to provide skills and knowledge on the biotechnological and agronomical tools to grow, preserve and modify plants in a deeply changing environment.  Topics: Molecular techniques, laboratory and field management practices to exploit plant plasticity aiming at phytoremediation, biopharming, germoplasm conservation, energy input containment and renewable energy production, environmental sustainability.
Practice in agro-environmental biotechnology** 6 2nd semester English Objectives: to provide evaluation elements to address problems of interest to agro-environmental biotechnology with a multidisciplinary approach. Students will be invited to face practical problems in topics of interest to the Master Course with a multidisciplinary approach, outlining solutions starting from the acquired competences and from bibliographic researches on the most recent scientific-technical literature and applying them in the lab. Topics: (a) A biotechnological approach for the sustainable production of energy from lignocellulosic residues; (b) Revealing the determinants of pathogenicity: from in silico analysis to mutagenesis and functional characterization; (c) Laboratory of diagnostic phytopathology for plant health and the conservation of their biodiversity under climate change.
Optional training courses* 3     Courses  chosen by the student (see the didactic regulation).
Stage*** 3     Internship in public or private research laboratories or in companies
Thesis dissertation 30   English Experimental thesis to be conducted in public or private research laboratories or in companies.

* Students are allowed to use the 9CFUs of the Optional training courses for following courses, seminars or practical activities of other Master Courses of the University of Florence or for prolonging the duration of the stage (up to 3 CFUs)

** Courses in English

*** The stage is a period of practical activities that must be carried out at one or more Companies, Public and private laboratories, in Italy or abroad, operating in the field of Biotechnology and that signed an agreement with the University of Florence




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