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CODE 98250
SEMESTER 2° Semester
MODULES Questo insegnamento è un modulo di:



Basic concepts of biochemistry and microbiology, main metabolic routes and applications of environmental concern


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 hours, the students will be able to:

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

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

3. acquire a sustainable perspective in which production is intimately linked to environmental protection and/or remediation

4. develop, as an added value of the module, 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


The module includes classroom lectures and training activities either in classroom or in laboratory. In the initial part of the module, the fundamentals of biotechnology (10 hours), and then more in-depth theoretical issues especially in the environmental field (28 hours) will be offered. Finally, lab training will be carried out on the complete development of a environmental bioprocess taken as an example (12 hours), and a classroom exercise will be done on how to prepare and write 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 deepen in the review. Such a work should be carried out preferentially in pairs. Communication skills will be encouraged through the preparation and presentation of a Power Point file on the environmental bioprocess chosen for the review to be evaluated during the examination.

The lessons in the laboratory will take place in person in a manner that will be communicated one week before their start.

Students who have valid certification of physical or learning disabilities on file with the University and who wish to discuss possible accommodations or other circumstances regarding lectures, coursework and exams, should speak both with the instructor and with Professor Federico Scarpa (  ), the Polytechnic School's disability liaison.


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

1. Introduction to environmental biotechnology (10 hours)

The cell: constitution, morphology and fundamental molecules

Proteins and enzymes: structure, conditions influencing enzyme activity

2. Biotechnological processes (6 hours)


Types of conduction

Aeration, Agitation, Sterilization, Immobilization

3. Biotechnological plants of environmental importance (2 hours)

4. Operations of pollutant removal (4 hours)

Removal of colloids

Solid-liquid separations: sedimentation, centrifugation, filtration

Metal removal from wastewaters

5. Kinetic aspects of environmental biotechnology (4 hours)

Kinetics of microbial growth

6. Fermentations for the production of biofuels and aerobic degradation (6 hours)


Krebs cycle

Respiration and oxidative phosphorylation

Bioethanol prodution

Biobutanol production

Mixed-acid fermentation for the production of biohydrogen

7. Environmental biotechnology (6 hours)

Anaerobic digestion and biogas production

Biofiltration of gaseous effluents

Metabolic pathways for degradation of organic pollutants

Biological treatment of wastewater

Disposal of sludge from wastewater treatment

8. Implementation of a lab-scale bioprocess of environmental significance (12 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, Volumes 1 and 2, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, Milan, 2003.

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

3. P. Barbieri, G. Bestetti, E. Galli, D. Zannoni (Eds.), Microbiologia Ambientale ed Elementi di Ecologia Microbica, 1st edition, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, Milan, 2008 (ISBN 978-88-08-18434-4).

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

5. A. Pessoa Jr., M. Vitolo, P.F. Long (Eds.), Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. A Focus on Industrial Application, 1st edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, 2022 (ISBN: 978-1-032-01374-9)




Second 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 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 module 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 environmental biotechnology and on environmental 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.


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 module, will propose to the teacher to deepen a specific biotechnological application in the environmental field 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 environmental biotechnology. The work will be presented by the student 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 starting from 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 verify the extent of learning.


Working students and students with SLD, disability or other special educational needs certification are advised to contact the teacher at the beginning of the course to agree on teaching and examination methods that, in compliance with the teaching objectives, take account of individual learning methods.

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