Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in BIOTECHNOLOGY
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Basic compulsory subjects
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (56 hours), Exercise (12 hours)

It is required that the student passes the exam of Citology and histology (I semester), before being admitted to the Genetics exam.

Final Examination: 

Assessment of the knowledge acquired in Genetics will be obtained through a written and oral exam at the end of the course. During the exam, the student will be asked to solve simple exercises designed to test knowledge of Mendelian genetics and will be asked questions aimed at verifying the acquirement of skills and of logical and methodological tools specific to the fields of classical, molecular and population genetics, and bacterial genetics. In addition, the student's ability to synthesize and communicate information using a proper language will be tested. The average time for an exam is 70 minutes (including both written and oral examination) and the vote is out of thirty: the exam is passed with a score of at least 18/30.

Voto Finale

The course of Genetics, held in the second semester of the first year of Biotechnology, is aimed at familiarizing with the mechanisms underlying transmission of Mendelian traits, understanding how the genetic material is organized, replicated and transmitted, and how genes work, in particular regarding the relation between mutation and phenotype and gene expression regulation. The basics of bacterial and virus genetics will be taught, describing the different genomes, their replication and how gene expression is regulated in different organisms. The student will learn the different types of mutations occurring in the genome and the basic mechanisms to study population genetics and complex diseases.
At the end of the course the student will be able to identify the basic patterns of inheritance in Eukaryotes, to make predictions about the progeny of a cross, will know the basics of population genetics and how and when to apply Hardy-Weinberg law. Moreover, the student will know the molecular biology of genetic variation and will be able to evaluate its consequences on biochemical and physiological processes. He/she will also acquire the basic concepts of genetic engineering, to be able to understand and perform laboratory experiments applying recombinant DNA techniques. On completion of this course the student should be able to follow advanced genetics and human genetics courses.
 To become acquainted with the fundamentals of Genetics, e.g. meiosis, transmission of mendelian traits and extensions to Mendel’s laws; to understand bases of inheritance for complex, quantitative traits; to acquire knowledge of the molecular bases of human diseases following simple models of genetic inheritance;
 To understand DNA structure and replication and how genetic information is extracted from a genome; to understand how gene expression is regulated both in prokaryotes and eukaryotes;
 To genome organization and its variation at the different levels (point, chromosomal, genomic mutations);
 To acquire basic knowledge in population genetics;
 To acquire basic knowledge in bacterial and viral genetics;
 To acquire basic knowledge in genetic engineering methods;

 Ability to read, understand and comment a scientific text in genetics;
 To be able to critically analyze and solve problems related to the mechanisms of inheritance
 To acquire basic knowledge of molecular genetics and genetic engineering applied to the construction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used in biotechnology;
 Saper applicare le nozioni apprese sul codice genetico e sulle mutazioni all’ingegneria genetica per la produzione di OGM. To apply the concepts learned about the genetic code and mutagenesis to genetic engineering, for the production of GMOs

 To demonstrate the ability to extract and synthesize relevant information from a Genetics text;
 To be able to communicate clearly and effectively, both orally and in writing, topics related to Genetics, using the appropriate terminology

Finally, the course aims at obtaining the following abilities:
 Ability to understand and critically discuss the basic concepts of heredity;
 Ability to understand the connection between the transmission of genes and chromosomes at meiosis and inheritance of characters, foreseeing the consequences of alterations of the normal mechanisms of inheritance;
 Potential biotechnological applications of the knowledge in molecular genetics acquired during the course.

Lessons (56 hours, 7 CFU)
Classical genetics (16 hours, 2 CFU)
◦ Revision of cell structure in plants and animals; chromosomes, mitosis and meiosis, genetic and biological importance of meiosis. Mendel’s method. Crosses of pure lines, F1 and F2. Segregation and independent assortment. Genes and alleles, phenotype and genotype. Monohybrid, dihybrid and trihybrid crosses; backcross. Multiple alleles and lethal alleles.
◦ Introduction to probability calculations. Concept of statistical test. Frequency distributions, binomial distribution. χ2 test.
◦ The chromosome theory of inheritance. Morgan’s experiments, sex-linked inheritance.
◦ Gene interactions. Mendelian genetics in humans: pedigrees and complications to the basic Mendelian pedigree patterns.
Gene concatenation (genetic linkage) and recombination. Backcross and mapping. Two and three-point mapping.

Population genetics (4 hours, 0.5 CFU)
◦ Concept of mendelian population, genetic pool, allelic and genotypic frequencies. Hardy-Weinberg law.
◦ Effects of mutation, gene flow, selection and genetic drift on the gene pool of populations. Inbreeding, the differentiation between populations.

The nature of the genetic material (6 hours, 0.75 CFU)
◦ Discovery of the identity of the genetic material. DNA structure. Replication and transcription of DNA in the different model organisms.

Gene structure and function (8 hours, 1 CFU)
◦ The hypothesis one gene-one enzyme.
◦ Gene-protein colinearity.
◦ The genetic code: features and deciphering. Its universality.
◦ Gene mutations: molecular basis of mutations and their frequency. DNA repair systems. Reversion and suppression. The discovery of introns. The fine structure of the gene.

Changes in genomic organization (6 hours, 0.75 CFU)
◦ Organization and complexity of the genome
◦ chromosomal mutations: deletions, duplications, inversions and translocations and their genetic effects.
◦ genomic mutations: changes in chromosome number, polyploidy.

Mechanisms of Genetic Exchange in Bacteria (4 hours, 0.5 CFU)
◦ Parasexual processes: transformation, conjugation and transduction.

Gene expression regulation (8 ore, 1 CFU)
◦ General concepts.
◦ Gene expression regulation in Prokaryotes: lac and trp operons in E. coli.
◦ Overview of gene expression regulation in Eukaryotes: chromatin, promoters, alternative splicing, microRNAs.

Basics of genetic engineering (4 hours, 0.5 CFU)
◦ The bacterial system of DNA modification/restriction and enzymes for recombinant DNA technologies.
◦ DNA amplification by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).

The teacher will propose exercises in the classroom in an interactive way, aimed at exploring and improving the understanding of topics explained during the lectures, with particular regard to classical genetics.

The teacher indicates, at the beginning of the course, a list of Genetics text suitable for preparation to the exam. No additional learning material is required, but class attendance is highly recommended.


Lectures will exploit the use of ppt presentations and possibly movies on biological and genetic processes. The teacher will also make extensive use of the classical blackboard to improve clarity and prepare schemes, stimulating interaction with students. During practice (tutorials), students will be invited to the blackboard to solve exercises of increasing difficulty, in particular on classical genetics topics, to stimulate the development of autonomy and problem solving skills and to ameliorate their knowledge of genetics.