cod. 1011144

Academic year 2023/24
2° year of course - First semester
- Andrea VANNINI
Academic discipline
Botanica ambientale e applicata (BIO/03)
A scelta dello studente
Type of training activity
Student's choice
28 hours
of face-to-face activities
3 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

1. Knowledge and understanding. Students must achieve a good knowledge of the concept of biomonitoring for environmental quality assessment and understand the potential of lichens as bioindicators of air quality. Students should be able to apply the theoretical-practical knowledge acquired during the course to perform an environmental biomonitoring study using lichens as bio-indicators.
2. Ability to apply knowledge and understanding. Students must be able to apply the theoretical-practical knowledge acquired during the course to perform an environmental biomonitoring study using lichens as bioindicators.
3. Independence of opinion. Students must acquire sufficient knowledge to develop a critical capacity to be able to autonomously interpret the results obtained from an environmental biomonitoring study.
4. Communication skills. Students must be able to communicate the results of biomonitoring analyses with regard to both the quality of a specific environment and the viability of lichen thalli living within it.
5. Learning ability. Students must learn the meaning and significance of environmental biomonitoring, as well as the methods for assessing the health status of a specific environment.


No prerequisites

Course unit content

The course is intended as a didactic tool to provide theoretical and practical guidance on the fundamental concepts of environmental biological monitoring. Specifically, the following will be covered: the fields of application, the instruments of investigation and the main scientific and legislative purposes. The course will provide students with both the knowledge of the concept of contamination and pollution and the ways in which contaminants interact with living organisms. The concept of biomonitoring, bioindicator organism and biomonitor organism will be addressed and practical examples of the use of plants, mosses and lichens for air quality assessment will be given. Particular emphasis will be placed on the use of lichens both as bioindicators of environmental quality and as bioaccomulators of airborne elements. The two main biomonitoring techniques using lichens will also be learnt: bioindication and trace element deposition monitoring. During the course, practical laboratory exercises are also planned, which are useful to deepen some topics concerning the biology (e.g. the various forms of growth and internal structure) and physiology of lichens, as well as the survey methodologies most commonly used to assess their health status associated with changes in environmental quality.

Full programme

- Environmental contamination VS environmental pollution
- Environmental disasters, environmental pollution, and human health
- From the dilution paradigm to the boomerang paradigm: the need for environmental biomonitoring
- Main environmental contaminants: organic contaminants (aliphatic compounds, aromatic compounds and other emerging contaminants) and inorganic contaminants (metals and metalloids, organometallic compounds, inorganic gases, anionic contaminants and nutrients)
- Contaminant/living organism interactions: uptake, biotransformation, detoxification, elimination and accumulation
- Factors influencing bioaccumulation
- Biomonitoring: general aspects
- Bioindicators and environmental quality
- Characteristics of a good bioindicator
- Contamination and air quality
- Automatic monitoring stations
- Bioindicators for air quality assessment (plants, mosses, and lichens)
- Lichens: growth forms, anatomy and physiology
- Lichens: between bioindicators and biomonitors
- Lichens as bioindicators: between resistance and sensitivity to environmental pollutants (sulphur oxides, ozone and heavy metals)
- The index of lichen biodiversity (IBL) for assessing environmental quality
- Lichens as biomonitors: monitoring the deposition of airborne elements
- Accumulation mechanisms, analysis methodologies, active (transplants) and passive (native lichens) monitoring techniques
- Methodologies for assessing lichen viability to environmental quality change: chlorophyll a fluorescence, content of photosynthetic pigments
- Biomonitoring using lichens VS instrumental monitoring (passive samplers)


Markert, B. A., Breure, A. M., & Zechmeister, H. G. (Eds.). (2003). Bioindicators and biomonitors. Elsevier.

Newman, M. C. (2014). Fundamentals of ecotoxicology: the science of pollution, CRC press., Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, London, New York.

Nash, T. H. (Ed.). (1996). Lichen biology. Cambridge University Press.

Nimis, P. L., Scheidegger, C., & Wolseley, P. A. (2002). Monitoring with lichens—monitoring lichens. In Monitoring with lichens—monitoring lichens (pp. 1-4). Springer, Dordrecht.

Paolo, G., Renato, B., Elisabetta, B., Giorgio, B., Cecconi, E., Tania, C., ... & Andrea, V. (2019). Linee guida per l'utilizzo dei licheni come bioaccumulatori.

ANPA. (2001). IBL Indice di Biodiversità Lichenica. Manuali e Linee Guida.

Kranner, I., Beckett, R. P., & Varma, A. (Eds.). (2002). Protocols in lichenology: culturing, biochemistry, ecophysiology and use in biomonitoring. Berlin: Springer.

Teaching methods

Lectures. Laboratory exercises.

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral examination. Each student will hold a short seminar (max. 10 min) on a topic of environmental biomonitoring that, during the course, has most attracted her attention. The seminar must be carried out following the outline of a scientific article of international interest chosen by the student himself. Questions on some topics covered during the course will follow.

Other information

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