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master degree course in FOOD SAFETY AND CONTROL

Course year 1
Teaching units Unit Unico
To be chosen by the student (lesson)
  • TAF: Optional subjects SSD: AGR/16 CFU: 6
Teachers: Lisa SOLIERI
Moodle portal
Exam type written
Evaluation final vote
Teaching language Italiano
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The course provides skills to conceive, develop, and implement GMO and GMO-free solutions to select and genetically improve yeast cell factories for food, industrial and nutrition applications.
Specific skills: to learn accurate procedures to manipulate, preserve and identify yeast cultures; to perform maker-assisted selection of cell factories; to dissect asci and analyze tetrads; to constitute and genotypically validate homozygous and hybrid cell lines; to learn main approaches for genetic manipulating yeasts, such as evolutionary engineering and genome shuffling, random and site-specific mutagenesis, knock-out strains construction, and gene-replacement; to acquire basic knowledge about genome editing of conventional and non-conventional yeasts.

Admission requirements

Skills in Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbial Biology are mandatory.

Course contents

PART I. Course introduction: Yeasts as starter cultures in food biotechnology, platforms for metabolite production in industrial microbiology and single cell proteins in nutraceutics; Saccharomyces cerevisiae as model organism in life sciences. Yeast taxonomy and metabolism. Life cycle of S. cerevisiae and other biotech yeasts, mating-type loci, mating-type switching, and main effectors of cell-identity and growth control. Genome projects of S. cerevisiae; knock-out libraries; introduction to “yeast system biology”.
PART II. Clonal selection and marker-assisted selection. GMO-free technologies: intra- and inter-species hybridization, random mutagenesis, evolutionary engineering. Next generation sequencing and its impact on inverse metabolic engineering. Metabolic engineering: plasmid-based systems, gene-replacement and gene-disruption techniques, in vivo and in vitro site-specific mutagenesis. Genome shuffling; gene editing in conventional and non-conventional yeasts.
PART III. Case studies of improved yeasts in food biotechnology and nutraceutics: wine starter cultures; food waste valorization by yeast fermentation and yeasts as source of dietary proteins; brewing hybrids; case study in industrial microbiology: evolutionary engineering for improving osmo and thermo-tolerance; yeasts and biorefinery for bioethanol and biofuels production; Komagatella pastoris as host for production of proteins, enzymes, and food additives.

Teaching methods

The course consists of lectures (6 credits) in fundamental yeast genetics and biotechnology as well as in specific research fields related to strain development and the resulting effects on food and industrial bioprocesses, human health, and environmental sustainability. At least two peer-reviewed papers will be discussed in classroom to introduce the student to critical thinking on strain development.

Assessment methods

Examination: Written multiple-choice questions (5 questions) on contents covered in the lectures (10/30 maximum score); oral exam (17/30 maximum score). The final written report on selected topic must be approved by the teacher for passing the course (3/30 maximum score). Further details about laboratory report submission are given in the course. In case of Covid-19 outbreak, online examination with the Teams platform.

Learning outcomes

A. Knowledge and understanding: thanks to lectures, paper readings and group project discussion, the student should be able to obtain knowledge concerning the main yeasts for food applications and to gain a quantitative understanding of the most innovative methodologies for strain development. Thanks to this knowledge, the student should be able to design and select strategies for developing yeast cell factories suitable for industrial applications, also considering demands for efficiency process, environmental sustainability, and human health.
B. Applying knowledge and understanding: example discussion should assure the student’s ability to experimentally approach the main innovative methods for yeast cell factory development, and, in particular, to manipulate and identify functional yeast cultures; to build and validate hybrids; to functionally select and prepare starter cultures.
C. Independence of judgment: the student should take advantage from paper reading and critical discussion of examples to understand and critically evaluate methods for yeast improvement, as well as and to autonomously conceive solutions to biotechnological problems involving yeasts.
D. Communication skills: Yeast improvement examples will be discussed to develop the student’s ability to define main aspects of biological problems; to describe data effectively and concisely; to formulate interpretations and solutions with appropriate language and to lead critical discussion about the topics covered.
E. Learning skills: The students should gain the methodological background to apply for further levels of training (Master or PhD courses) and to engage themselves in self-directed learning activities that allows life-long vocational training.


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