Master's degree in Agri-Food Biotechnology

Microbial biotechnologies

Course code
Name of lecturer
Giovanni Vallini
Giovanni Vallini
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre dal Mar 4, 2019 al Jun 14, 2019.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course is designed to deepen the theoretical foundamentals as well as the application methodologies for the exploitation of microbial systems in fields such as the production of economically valuable compounds, the recovery and valorization of agricultural and food-industry residues and by-products, the treatment of waste for energy recovery and the environmental decontamination by means of microbiological means (bioremediation). Starting from the wealth of information acquired during the attendance of preeceding courses of microbiological content area along with the training activity experienced in the three-year Bachelor's Degree, the students will deal with the properties related to both prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea, yeasts, filamentous fungi and - in a distinct position as non-cellular forms - viruses, in relation to the potential applications in different technological contexts. The microorganisms will be essentially analyzed as biological catalysts endowed with specific biosynthetic capacities or in that they are capable of operating transformation / degradation reactions, both in a confined environment (bioreactors) and in the open field. The discussion of the topics in the program has as main objective the identification of procedures for the control and optimization of the bioprocesses of interest.


SYLLABUS – 1. Back references to microbial diversity and taxonomy ; 2. Biocatalysts in organic chemical synthesis ; 3. SCP (single cell protein) production with bacteria ; 4. Yeasts and unicellular algae for SCP production ; 5. Production of organic acids with particular emphasis to citric acid ; 6. Enzymes of microbial origin ; 7. Microbial polysaccharides e polyesters ; 8. Microbial degradation of biopolymers: starch, cellulose and lignin ; 9. Microbial production of amino acids ; 10. Microbial transformation of lipids and sterols ; 11. Microbial degradation of xenobiotic compounds in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions ; 12. Microbiology of wastewater depuration ; 13. Principles of composting ; 14. Anaerobic digestion of biomass ; 15. Bioleaching and biomining for the recovery of metals; 16. Industrial production of edible mushrooms; 17. Exercises for the estimation of both efficiency of microbial growth and product formation within industrial fermentations.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Michael J. Waites, Neil L. Morgan, John S. Rockey, Gary Higton Industrial Microbiology: An Introduction (Edizione 1) Wiley-Blackwell 2001 978-0-632-05307-0
Richard H. Baltz, Julian E. Davies, Arnold L. Demain Manual of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (Edizione 3) ASM Press 2010 978-1-55581-512-7
Alexander N. Glazer, Hiroshi Nikaido Microbial Biotechnology - Fundamentals of Applied Microbiology (Edizione 2) Cambridge University Press 2007 9780521842105

Assessment methods and criteria

Final profit verification by written examination. The test consists of submitting to the student a multi-page form containing a number of questions ranging from 20 to 25, structured as single-textbox questions, multiple-choice questions, calculation exercises, request of short comments and descriptions. Each question is given a different weight in points. The rating is in thirtieths, based on the percentage of points matched with the correct answers.


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