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CODE 104229
ACADEMIC YEAR 2024/2025
CREDITS
SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINARY SECTOR BIO/03
LANGUAGE Italian
TEACHING LOCATION
  • GENOVA
SEMESTER 1° Semester
MODULES Questo insegnamento è un modulo di:
TEACHING MATERIALS AULAWEB

AIMS AND CONTENT

LEARNING OUTCOMES

This module concerns the botanical and mycological approach to forensic science and includes various fields of plant and fungi science that can be useful in criminal cases and legal disputes. This teaching will provide the basic knowledge about the application of Botany and Mycology to forensic investigations and legal disputes. Possible sources of botanical and mycological evidence will be illustrated, such as palinology, dendrology, plant anatomy, limnology, pharmacognosy, molecular biology, etc. Examples of historical case reports and data analysis will be shown as well as identification of plants and fungi subjected to legal restrictions according to European and international regulations will be presented. Toxic plants and fungi dangerous for humans and animals and botanicals used as recreational psychoactive drugs and hallucinogenic mushrooms will be also described.

AIMS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES

This module will provide the students with the general knowledge about forensic botany and mycology and their application in crime investigation and in the answering to other legal issues. The most important poisoned planst and toxic fungi will be illustrated in addition to the plants used for drug production and hallucinogenic fungi. Case studies, where botanic and mycological evidence have been used will be presented. Collection and Identification methods of specimens of forensic interest will also be presented.

At the end of the module students will be able to demonstrate:

a) A general knowledge of the principles of forensic botany and mycology

b) A general knowledge about the role of plants and fungi as sources of toxic and psychoactive substances;

c) A general understanding about the role of plants and fungi in alimentary frauds and in food contamination;

d) A general understanding of the role of fungi in the cadaver decomposition processes;

e) A general understanding of the use of plants and fungi (eg.: plant fragments in the gut content, roots, pollens, spores, hyphae, etc.) in PMI and body transfer estimation.

At the end of the lectures, students will be able to:

a) Select the best sampling methods for botanic and mycological evidence depending on the different forensic scenarios;

b) Identify the most important poisoning plants, the illegal drugs produced from plants, the most important toxic and hallucinogenic fungi;

c) Identify the most important botanic and mycological evidence useful in a forensic context;

d) Identify the most important mycological taxa involved in the decomposition process. 

TEACHING METHODS

The module teaching is based on lectures, laboratory, and work group. Attendance to lectures and practical group activities is not mandatory, but strongly recommended.

Lectures are delivered with multimedia supports.

During the first term, lectures will be delivered in presence, in special cases, online attendance will still be guaranteed with synchronised videos. Practical lessons will be held in presence.

 


 

SYLLABUS/CONTENT

The module is built up of  two components: Forensic Botany and Forensic Mycology
Forensic Botany

  • A brief historical introduction to Forensic Botany and its application in the legal disputes. Case studies and examples: kidnapping, murder, war crime and frauds.
  • Botanical traces useful in the forensic context (pollens, seeds, fragments, etc.)
  • Methods, techniques and case studies
  • Toxic plants for humans and animals
  • Classic drug and new psychoactive substances of botanic origin.                                   

Forensic Mycology

  • Forensic mycology: definition and fields of applicability. Case studies.
  • Fungi and thanotochronology: case studies.
  • Fungi involved in decomposition, biodeterioration and biodegradation.
  • The main toxic and hallucinogenic fungi.
  • Methods of sampling fungi at a crime scene in an outdoor or indoor environment.  

RECOMMENDED READING/BIBLIOGRAPHY

The teaching material will be available on Aulaweb as .pdf files

Suggested books are available in the library or for consultation in the lecturer office:

-Forensic Botany - Practical Guide. D.W. Hall & J.H. Byrd eds. WILEY-Blackwell, 2012

-Forensic Botany. Principles and Applications to Criminal Casework. Edited by Heather Miller Coyle. CRC Press 2005.

-Essential Forensic Biology - Gunn A., 3rd edition, Willey 2019

TEACHERS AND EXAM BOARD

LESSONS

LESSONS START

See detailed timetable at the following link: https://easyacademy.unige.it/portalestudenti/

EXAMS

EXAM DESCRIPTION

The exam consists of two parts: a multiple-choice test and the presentation of a final document that will be discussed in an oral exam.

ASSESSMENT METHODS

Details of how to prepare for the examination and the degree of depth required for each topic will be provided at the beginning of the module and reiterated during the lectures. The two tests will consist of the preparation of a paper which will be discussed orally.

FURTHER INFORMATION

The examinations will test the ability to present the topics clearly, with correct terminology and in a critical manner.

Students with a disability/DSA certificate (special needs and specific learning disorders) should contact both the Professor and the Department contact person for disabilities (Professor Sara Ferrando:sara.ferrando@unige.it) to ask for compensatory tools and dispensatory measures and other specific support services.

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals
Peace, justice and strong institutions
Peace, justice and strong institutions