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CODE 72309
  • 5 cfu during the 2nd year of 10376 INGEGNERIA CHIMICA E DI PROCESSO (LM-22) - GENOVA
  • SEMESTER 1° Semester


    The Course of Industrial Biotechnology is held by Prof. Attilio Converti during the first semester of the Master Degree in Chemical and Process Engineering. It has a total duration of 50 hours, including 2 hours of exercises in classroom and 8 hours in lab and consists of a first introductory part (about 12 hours), in which the basic concepts of biochemistry and microbiology are remembered, and a second part covering the main industrial biotechnological applications.



    The course aims at providing the concepts needed for a good knowledge of the biotechnological processes and plants, with specific concern to the industrial applications. Particular attention is paid to the principles and technological aspects of new biotechnological applications.


    Through the frequency and individual study, and above all through a fruitful interaction between teacher and students during the planned didactic activities (lectures, classroom and laboratory training) and the office meetings, the students will be able to:

    1. remember and deepen the fundamental concepts of biochemistry and microbiology, on which the biotechnological processes are based

    2. familiarize themselves with the principles and technological aspects of new biotechnological applications

    3. acquire an industrial perspective

    4. mature, as an added value of the course, the ability to work in group, during both the laboratory training and the joined preparation of a review for final exam

    5. acquire transversal skills in terms of communication and preparation of a review


    For a successful learning, basic knowledge of biology, biochemistry and mathematics is required, but no formal prerequisites are foreseen.


    The course includes classroom lectures and training activities either in classroom or in laboratory. In the initial part of the course, the fundamentals of biotechnology (12 hours) and then more in-depth theoretical issues (28 hours) will be offered. Finally, lab training will be carried out on the complete development of an industrial bioprocess taken as an example (8 hours), and classroom exercises will be done on how to prepare and writing a scientific review (2 hours).

    The transversal skills in terms of autonomy of judgment and ability to work in a team will be acquired a) during the laboratory training in which the students will be engaged in groups and b) leaving to the students the choice of the topic, among those presented in lectures or practical training, to be developed in the review. Such an activity should be carried out preferentially in pairs. Communication skills will be encouraged through the preparation and presentation of a Power Point file on the bioprocess chosen for the review to be evaluated during the examination.

    As part of the innovation learning project adopted by the Bachelor Degree Course in Chemical and Process Engineering, novel tools will be used for the active learning of students. The goal is to increase students' skills via interactive, experience-based, learning methodologies (e-learning, teamwork, etc.) for enhanced student participation, using an advanced level of communication that makes the student more aware and autonomous.

    Students with DSA certification, disability or other special educational needs are recommended to contact the teacher at the beginning of the course to agree educational and examination methods that, in compliance with the objectives of teaching, take into account individual learning methods and provide suitable compensatory tools.


    The teaching program includes the presentation and discussion of the following topics:

    1. Introduction to biotechnology (12 hours)

    The cell: constitution, morphology and fundamental molecules

    Proteins and enzymes: structure, conditions influencing enzymatic activity

    2. Microbial metabolism (4 hours)

    Catabolic and anabolic pathways, ATP and ADP

    Genetic code and protein synthesis: DNA and RNA

    3. Industrial biotechnological processes (4 hours)


    Types of conduction

    Aeration, Agitation, Sterilization, Immobilization

    4. Industrial fermenters (4 hours)

    5. Recovery of biotechnological products and chromatographic techniques (4 hours)

    6. Kinetic and thermodynamic aspects of biotechnology (4 hours)

    Kinetics of microbial growth

    Material balance and productivity of a CSTR with and without cell recycle

    Enzyme kinetics and thermodynamics

    7. Industrial fermentations (8 hours)

    Glycolytic pathways

    Krebs cycle

    Respiration and oxidative phosphorylation

    Homolactic and heterolactic fermentations

    Alcoholic fermentation

    Acetic fermentation

    Butyric butyl fermentations

    Mixed-acid fermentation

    Propionic fermentations

    Citric fermentation

    8. Implementation of a lab-scale industrial bioprocess (8 hours)

    9. Classroom exercises on how to prepare a scientific review (2 hours)


    The Power Point didactic material to be used during lectures will be delivered to the students during the first three lessons, while the sheets needed for lab training will be delivered during the first practical training together with safety tools. Notwithstanding the notes taken in classroom and the material delivered at the beginning of course are considered sufficient to prepare the exam, the following books, available upon request also to the teacher, can be consulted for further deepening needed to prepare the review, in addition, of course, of scientific journals freely available online to UNIGE students.

    1. M.T. Madigan, J.M. Martinko, J. Parker, Brock, Biologia dei Microrganismi, Volumi 1 e 2, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, Milan, 2003.

    2. S. Aiba, A.E. Humphrey, N.F. Millis, Biochemical Engineering, 2nd edition, New York, Academic Press, 1973.

    3. M. Marzona, Chimica delle Fermentazioni & Microbiologia Industriale, 2nd edition, Piccin Nuova Libraria S.p.A., Padua, 1996.

    4. S. Donadio, G. Marino (Eds.), Biotecnologie Microbiche, 1st edition, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, september 2008 (ISBN 987-88-08-18438-2).


    Exam Board

    ATTILIO CONVERTI (President)


    ALESSANDRO ALBERTO CASAZZA (President Substitute)



    First semester of the academic year according to the Polytechnic School calendar.

    Class schedule

    All class schedules are posted on the EasyAcademy portal.



    The final examination consists of passing an oral test, in which the student presents, with the help of a Power Point file, his/her review previously agreed with the teacher and sent by the student to the teacher by e-mail at least one week before, for correction purposes. Since the topic of the review will be only a small part of the course contents, the shortcomings, imperfections or doubts highlighted in the review will be the starting point for a series of questions on the basic principles of industrial biotechnology and on biotechnological processes in general, which will allow the teacher to ascertain the knowledge level achieved by the student. The number of questions is not fixed, in the sense that it will depend on the degree of excellence of the review in terms of consistency of the work carried out with respect to the topic, structure and completeness of work, updating of literature, compliance with general editorial rules, personal conclusions on topic and future perspectives. Nonetheless, at least one question will be asked about each of these criteria, as well as about the topic of lab training activity.

    Three exam sessions will be available for the ‘winter’ period (December, February and during the Polytechnic School break around the Easter period) and 5 sessions for the 'summer' one [end of May, June, July (2 sessions), September]. No extraordinary sessions will be available outside the periods indicated by the Polytechnic School, except for students who have not included in their study plan learning activities in the current academic year.

    Students with DSA certification, disability or other special educational needs are recommended to contact the teacher at the beginning of the course to agree educational and examination methods that, in compliance with the objectives of teaching, take into account individual learning methods and provide suitable compensatory tools.


    Details on how to prepare for the exam along with the deepening degree of each topic will be elucidated to the students during the lessons. The students, at the end of the course, propose to the teacher to deepen a specific biotechnological application in the industrial field, which will be chosen among those explained during lectures and lab training. After agreeing the topic with the teacher, the students, preferentially but not necessarily in pairs, will send the review to the teacher at least one week before the oral exam. The work, after correction by the teacher, will be taken as the main starting point of the oral examination, becoming the subject of at least 5 questions aimed at assessing the learning of the basic principles of biotechnology. The work will be presented by the student in Italian or English with the help of a Power Point file. This part of the exam is aimed to ascertain the student's abilities to discern the relative importance of the different contributions of the scientific literature, to synthesize and to elaborate a review resorting to all available sources, all considered essential for future success in the work world. The quality of the exposure, the correct use of technical terminology and the critical reasoning ability will also be assessed. The oral exam will end with a further question related to the topic of lab training, in order to check the extent of learning.

    Exam schedule

    Date Time Location Type Notes
    13/01/2022 15:00 GENOVA Orale
    27/01/2022 15:00 GENOVA Orale
    16/02/2022 15:00 GENOVA Orale
    07/06/2022 09:30 GENOVA Orale
    24/06/2022 09:30 GENOVA Orale
    08/07/2022 09:30 GENOVA Orale
    22/07/2022 09:30 GENOVA Orale
    16/09/2022 09:30 GENOVA Orale


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