Skip to main content
CODE 72309
SEMESTER 1° Semester


The Industrial Biotechnology discipline is held by Prof. Attilio Converti and Alessandro Alberto Casazza 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 discipline 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 teachers and students during the planned didactic activities (lectures, classroom and laboratory training) and the office meetings, students are expected 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. develop, as an added value of the discipline, 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 discipline includes classroom lectures and training activities either in classroom or in laboratory. In the initial part of the discipline, 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 covered 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.

Exploiting previous experience on an innovation learning project adopted by the 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.

Working students and students with DSA certification, disability or other special educational needs are recommended to contact the teachers at the beginning of the course to agree educational and examination methods that, in compliance with the objectives of the discipline, take into account individual learning methods.


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 discipline 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






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

Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy



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 teachers and sent by the student to the teachers 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 discipline 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 teachers 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.


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 discipline, will propose to the teachers 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 teachers, the students, preferentially but not necessarily in pairs, will send the review to the teachers at least one week before the oral exam. The work, after correction by the teachers, 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

Data Ora Luogo Degree type Note
20/12/2023 15:00 GENOVA Orale
11/01/2024 15:00 GENOVA Orale
25/01/2024 15:00 GENOVA Orale
15/02/2024 15:00 GENOVA Orale
05/06/2024 09:30 GENOVA Orale
21/06/2024 09:30 GENOVA Orale
19/07/2024 09:30 GENOVA Orale
12/09/2024 09:30 GENOVA Orale


Further information available at the site:

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals
Good health and well being
Good health and well being
Affordable and clean energy
Affordable and clean energy
Climate action
Climate action