cod. 1009212

Academic year 2020/21
2° year of course - Second semester
- Arnaldo DOSSENA
Academic discipline
Chimica e biotecnologia delle fermentazioni (CHIM/11)
A scelta dello studente
Type of training activity
Student's choice
21 hours
of face-to-face activities
3 credits
course unit

Learning objectives

The course has the purpose of providing the basic concepts essential to undertake the study of the thermodynamic and biochemical mechanisms of functioning of living organisms. In particular, highlight the synthetic strategies that are put into practice in nature. It will also discuss the metabolic, physiological and pharmaceutical role that these compounds exert in organisms that produce them, or in organisms that come in contact with the molecules. These concepts will then be used to understand how it is possible to design fermentation or enzymatic digestion processes that allow to generate products with high added value.
is treated the acquisition of a language formally correct, is stimulated the ability to express the content in a clear and straightforward way, are highlighted connections between different parts of the course and how they contribute to the overall understanding of the system.
Application of knowledge:
the course provides the tools to interpret in a rational way the main biological pathways that lead to the production of secondary metabolites. These compounds are found only in specific organisms or groups of organisms and are an expression of individuality of the species. It allows to understand the basis of the industrial processes of fermentation and enzymatic digestion. Also encourages the student's understanding of events that had previously been addressed only in a phenomenological way.


Knowledge of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Course unit content

The course aims to provide the fundamental concepts essential to undertake the study of bioenergetics of living organisms. In this regard, in the first part of the course the concepts of prebiotic chemistry and of biological homochirality are taken into consideration. At the end of the first part we discuss the topic
concerning the possible hypothesis of the birth of life on earth. Subsequently, the energy production mechanisms of heterotrophic organisms (both prokaryotic and eukaryotic) and autotrophic (cyclic and non-cyclic photophosphorylation) are investigated. Particular references are dedicated to the thermodynamics of systems far from equilibrium and to the production of high energy molecules, or group transfer agents, which will be used in the metabolic phase of living organisms. It will, subsequently, be taken into account how it is possible, knowing the mechanisms that regulate catabolic processes, to design fermentation or enzymatic processes for the production of molecules with high added value (industrial production of vitamins, pigments and natural synthons for biomaterials). To better understand the processes described and to place them in an application context, practical examples are discussed and discussed with the students where these concepts are applied.

Full programme

Energy, work, order; conservation of energy and laws of thermodynamics; energy flows in nature and in far from equilibrium systems. Evolution in biological systems; prebiotic chemistry, biological homochirality, prokaryotes and eukaryotes, Notes on the origins of life on earth. Catabolism. Redox reactions in the processes of Glycolysis, Krebs cycle and Mitochondrial Respiration and electron transport chains
downhill in biological systems. Cyclic and non-cyclic photophosphorylation and uphill electron transport. Use of high-energy molecules in the Calvin cycle. Enzymes and coenzymes; role of enzymes and coenzymes in biological catalysis; fermentation or enzymatic processes for the production of high value-added molecules (industrial production of vitamins, pigments and natural synthons for biomaterials).


D.N. Nicholls, S.J.Ferguson, Bioenergetics 3, Academic Press, London
D.N. Nicholls, S.J.Ferguson, Bioenergetics 3, Academic Press, London
G. Fornari, M. T. Gando, V, Evangelisti, Microbiologia e chimica delle fermentazioni, Zanichelli

Teaching methods

The course takes place in 21 hours of lessons in the presence or in mixed mode, in case of inability to deliver lessons in the presence. During the lessons, students are guided to the understanding of the concepts of the production of energy in living organisms (Bioenergetics) and the ability of using this knowledge to design fermentation or enzymatic processes. Are then dealt with the main metabolic pathways with the aim of understanding the functioning of living organisms. During each set of topics, and at the end, are discussed practical examples regarding the topics covered which are then discussed with the aim of allowing the student to assess their level of understanding of the subject. The student participation is requested to rationalize the principles that living organisms use to produce the metabolites of their interest.

Assessment methods and criteria

During the course are scheduled sessions to verify the level of understanding of the concepts that are treated and their ability to assimilate them. In particular, it is evaluated as and if they are able to perceive
the concept by asking them specific questions that solicit their participation in the definition of the topic in discussion (to check the ability to understand). At the beginning or at the end of each specific topic, are scheduled tutorial sessions where they are dealt with real situations and where are tested students' ability to understand and discuss concrete problems (ability to apply knowledge in a context different from the theoretical part). The final exam consists of a written test where a discussion on a bioenergetics and on a fermentation chemistry topic is scheduled. The student's ability to manage the topics and their degree of understanding of the concepts used is evaluated. The vote will take into consideration all aspects.

Other information

Teaching materials used during classes is available on ELLY platform. On ELLY platform also short lessons are available for students who can’t attend classes. The teacher remains with the students for clarification and discussion at the end of the lesson and is available to provide further explanation.