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)

To understand the genetics lectures there are no specific requirements, however it is strongly advised that the student acquires knowledge of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell organization and of the processes of mitosis and meiosis. These topics are dealt with in the Citology and histology course.

Final Examination: 

Assessment of the knowledge acquired in Genetics will be obtained through an exam at the end of the course. During the exam, the student will be asked to solve simple exercises to test knowledge of classical genetics (such as those dealt with during course practice) 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 about 70 minutes (including both exercises and oral examination) and the vote is out of thirty: the exam is passed with a score of at least 18/30.

Voto Finale

Aims of the Genetic course is to make the student familiarize with the mechanisms underlying transmission of Mendelian traits, understand 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, being aware of the different types of mutations occurring in the genome. 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. Basic knowledge of bacterial and viral genetics and genetic engineering methods will be provided.
The student will be asked to demonstrate understanding of the fundamentals of Genetics, e.g. meiosis, transmission of mendelian traits and extensions to Mendel’s laws, understanding of the bases of inheritance for complex, quantitative traits; to acquire knowledge of the molecular bases of human diseases following simple models of genetic inheritance. 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 about the different types of mutations occurring in the genome and the basic mechanisms to study population genetics and complex diseases. In the end, he/she should be able to envisage potential biotechnological applications of genetic elements and processes examined in molecular genetics.
Moreover, he/she should acquire the ability to read, understand and comment a scientific text in genetics and molecular biology, to be able to communicate clearly and effectively, both orally and in writing, topics related to genetics, using the appropriate scientific terminology
On completion of this course the student should be able to follow advanced genetics and human genetics courses.

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).

Practice exercises (12 hours, 1 CFU)
During practice, the teacher will propose exercises to 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: prediction of the results of specific genetic crosses, genealogic tree construction or analysis, study of gene interactions, construction of genetic maps and study of genes associated on the same chromosome.

Recommended Genetics textbooks:
- Russell. Genetica. Un approccio molecolare. Pearson.
- Pierce. Genetica. Zanichelli.
- Snustad & Simmons. Principi di genetica. Edises.
- Binelli & Ghisotti. Genetica. Edises.
- Klug, Cummings & Spencer. Concetti di Genetica. Pearson.

Powerpoint presentations will be made available in e-learning, but class attendance is highly recommended, in particular for exercise practice.


Learning goals will be reached by providing 56 hours of lectures (with powerpoint presentations and occasionally scientific movies) and practice exercises (12 hours) that will actively engage students to solve classical genetics problems, to complete and verify their proficiency.

The teacher will answer questions regarding the topics discussed in the course upon appointment. It is mandatory to use the official student’s address, having the domain, when sending e-mails.