10 credits during the 1st year of 8762 Biological Sciences (L-13) GENOVA
GENOVA (Biological Sciences)
Teaching materials


Botany studies the various aspects of plant life, including the plant cell, the different organization levels, the morphological and anatomical structure of plants, the mechanisms of development and reproduction, the relationships between structure and function. Botany also concerns plant biodiversity in natural environments, main evolutionary lines and taxa, especially in relation to Spermatophyta.



The course provides the acquisition of fundamental notions about the cell, the anatomical plant tissues and structure in the various groups. It also deals with developmental mechanisms and with the different modes of propagation and reproduction of plant organisms, especially in Angiosperms. The course provides the acquisition of the main knowledge on evolutionary lines, botanical nomenclature rules, taxonomic groups, including the characteristics of the main families of the Italian Flora and the use of analytical keys for their identification. Understanding the meaning and value of biodiversity.


The attendance and participation in the planned educational activities (lectures, laboratory and field exercises) will enable the student to acquire the knowledge necessary to deal studies in the field of plant biology and related subjects.

Specifically, the student will be able to:

- know and describe plant structure and function, with particular reference to terrestrial plants

- know methods concerning in histological and anatomical investigations of plant tissues and organs

- distinguish the main taxonomic groups of plant kingdom and identify the main families of Angiosperms.


Students are required to have a basic knowledge of cytology and developmental biology.


Teaching methods

The teaching consists of lectures and exercises in the classroom, laboratory and field.

Lectures in the classroom will be delivered through a multimedia presentation.

Laboratory exercises include preparation of slides concerning plant histology and anatomy. The Lab activities will take place in equipped laboratories.

The exercises in the classroom and in the field will provide a direct observation of samples or plant specimens.


The course will deal with the following topics:

- Importance of plants for humans and living beings. Affinities and differences between plants and animals.

- The plant cell. Cell size, shape and organization. Basic notions on chemical compounds and cell organelles.

- Cell wall: cytodieresis and origin of the cell wall. Cell wall growth, composition and function. Middle lamella, primary wall, and secondary wall. Apoplast and symplast (basic notions). Cell wall modifications and their functions (cutinization, lignification, suberification, mineralization, gelification, wax and gum deposition).

- Plastids: proplastids, chloroplasts and primary starch, etioplasts, leucoplasts and secondary starch (amylose and amylopectin), chromoplasts.

- Vacuole: origin, development, functions. Vacuolar content, features and functions of major vacuolar inclusions; importance of vacuolar inclusions in plant-animal relationships.

- Structural organization of plants: thallus and cormus, the conquest of terrestrial environments and adaptations.

- Cell growth by division and distension. Plant cell differentiation. Basic features of Arabidopsis thaliana as an experimental model for plant biology.

- Plant tissues: features, functions, and position. Primary and secondary meristemes; Continuative embriogeny and totipotency. Parenchimatic tissues, Tegument tissues, secretoy tissues, mechanical tissues, conducting tissues (xylem and phloem, cribro-vascular bundles, different types of stele).

- Vegetative organs of the cormus. The root and its functions; primary and secondary structure; branching. The stem and its functions; stem anatomy in Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons (primary and secondary structures; growth rings; sapwood and heartwood; homoxylous and heteroxylous wood); stem anatomy in Monocotyledons. The leaf and its functions; examples of Gymnosperm leaves; leaf anatomy in Angiosperms: dorsoventral and isolateral leaves. Leaf differentiation and adaptations.

- Elements of eukaryotic plant reproduction. Vegetative reproduction. Reproduction by sporogonia. Sexual reproduction and metagenetic cycles. Angiosperm flowers: morphology, function; evolution of floral parts. Impollination and fertilization. The seed and its reserves. The first steps of germination and the seedling.

- Introduction to systematic botany: Taxa and nomenclature; taxonomic systems. Metagenetic cycles

- Eukaryotic algae: generalities, morphology, organization, reproduction and cycles. Systematics: Rhodophyta, Phaeophyta, Chrysophyta, Euglenophyta, Clorophyta, Charophyta.

- Relief of plants from the aquatic environment Terrestrial plants: general taxonomic scheme.

- Embryophytes: differences between Bryophytes and Tracheophyte

- Bryophyta: generality, morphology, organization, systematics, reproduction and cycle

- Pteridophyta (vascular cryptogams): general features, morphology and organization, reproduction and cycles of pteridophyte isosporea and heterosporea.

- Spermatophyta: general characteristics; egg and seed, pollen.

- Gymnosperms: generality, morphology and organization; reproductive organs, reproduction and cycle; Cytopophytes, Gingkophytes, Coniferophytes and Gnetophytes.

- Angiosperms: generalities, morphology and organization; reproductive organs; flower, inflorescences; fruit; reproduction and cycle; Dicotyledons and Monocotyledons



Techniques for the examination and analysis of plant material. Sample sectioning and staining for microscopy.

- Elements of plant cytology: cell wall, vcuoles, amyloplasts, chloroplasts.

- Morphological and anatomical observations of the cormus. The different types of roots; primary and secondary structure. The different types of stems; anatomy of the Gymnosperms, Dicotyledons (primary and secondary structure) and Monocotyledons. The different types of leaves; anatomy of Gymnosperm and Angiosperm leaves (dorsoventral and isolateral leaves).

Final trip for the observation of plants in their natural environment, either in the wilderness or in botanical gardens.

- Metamorphosis of root, stem and leaf.

- Flower and inflorescences of Angiosperms: morphology and functions. Morphological and anatomical characteristics of the fruit with relevant examples.

- Elements of phytognosy and use of dichotomous keys for the recognition of the main families of Dicotyledons and Monocotyledons. Presentation in the field of the main plant groups: mosses, ferns, Gymnosperms and Angiosperms with direct experiences.

- Visit to the Hanbury Botanical Gardens for direct observation of all the topics covered in the course.

- Field trip for live observations and harvesting of herbarium preparation material



Main texts:

Speranza A. e Calzoni G. L. Struttura delle piante per immagini. Ed.Zanichelli, Bologna, 1996.

Pasqua G., Abbate G., Forni C. Botanica generale e diversità vegetale. Ed. Piccin, Padova, 2008.

Testi di consultazione:

Pancaldi S. et al., Fondamenti di Botanica generale- Teoria e pratica. McGraw-Hill, 2011

Tripodi G. Introduzione alla Botanica sistematica EdiSES, 2006

Rost et al. Biologia delle piante, Zanichelli, 2008.

Tavole di anatomia dei vegetali vascolari:

Botanica generale e sistematica (lezioni e approfondimenti su diversi argomenti del corso, terminologia, ecc):




Ricevimento: Anytime, fixed upon request by telephone and by e-mail (

Ricevimento: Fixed upon request by e-mail (

Exam Board


LUIGI MINUTO (President)



Teaching methods

The teaching consists of lectures and exercises in the classroom, laboratory and field.

Lectures in the classroom will be delivered through a multimedia presentation.

Laboratory exercises include preparation of slides concerning plant histology and anatomy. The Lab activities will take place in equipped laboratories.

The exercises in the classroom and in the field will provide a direct observation of samples or plant specimens.


The lessons of the first semester will start from September 23, 2019, and will be completed by January 17, 2020. The lessons of the second semester will start from February 17, 2020 and will end by June 12, 2020. Refer to the detailed timetable below link:


Exam description

The exam includes a written test during the course related to general botany and one related to laboratory exercises. To access the laboratory test, attendance at laboratory exercises must be at least 75%. The final exam also includes the presentation of a small herbarium; the overall grade (80813) consists of the weighted average of the marks obtained in the various tests of the two modules. The partial grades are valid only for the summer session (June, July and September) of the current academic year.

Students who do not take or do not pass the tests in progress must take an oral exam on the complete course program (80813).

Students who hold or pass only one of the in itinere tests of general botany and systematic botany can retrieve the missing proof with a single attempt, within the appeals of June and July of the current academic year.

Assessment methods

Both for the theoretical part and for the laboratory, final tests are foreseen to ascertain the effective acquisition of basic knowledge of botany. Upon completion of the evaluation, the presentation of a small herbarium will be required, with discussion on the prepared samples.

Those who have not taken or passed the tests in itinere will have to take a classic oral exam, concerning all the topics covered during the frontal lessons and the Laboratories (Bot. Gen. + Bot. Sist. + Lab), including recognitions of an anatomical section and of plant samples.

The oral exam will aim to assess not only if the student has reached an adequate level of knowledge, but if he has acquired the ability to link structure and functions in plants.



Attendance at the theoretical course strongly recommended and which will allow an adequate preparation to take the test in progress. To take the final written test of the Laboratory, an attendance of 75% at the laboratory activities  is necessary.