Adaptation of animals and plants to environment

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
BIO/04 BIO/09
Learning objectives
The course concerns the analysis of the relationships between plants and animals physiology and main environmental variables. Learning objectives are, therefore, the assessment of the environmental variables that affect organism life and understanding of the physiological adaptations to the environment.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge of adaptation and acclimatization strategies in response to environmental stimuli and stresses both in plants and animals.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
The lessons will be held on the Microsoft Teams Platform synchronously keeping the scheduled timetable. All lessons will be recordered and will be available to students for asynchronous use on the same platform.
The program, reference textbooks and teaching material will not be affected. The exam will take place as oral discussion using the Microsoft Teams platform or, if allowed, in person, always as oral. The same evaluation criteria will be used.
Course syllabus
Physiological mechanisms involved in response to environment changes: homeostatic responses and adaptations. Involved organs: skin, intestine, lung, gill, kidney, salt glands.
Osmotic and ionic homeostasis
Regulation in aquatic habitats showing different salinity: invertebrates of seawater, brackish water, freshwater and hypersaline water; aquatic vertebrates; catadromous and anadromous fishes.
Regulation in terrestrial habitats: dehydration risk and hydric balance in terrestrial invertebrates and vertebrates (Henle's loop, malpighian tubules).
Nitrogen excretion (ammonotelic, ureotelic and uricotelic organisms).
Respiration in aquatic habitats: oxygen availability; gills and aquatic ventilation; facoltative and obligate air breathing fishes; aquatic respiration control: PO2 dependance.
Respiration in terrestrial habitats: oxygen availability; lungs and aerial ventilation in vertebrates; tracheae and respiration in insects; aerial respiration control: PCO2 dependance. Special adaptations: Ipossia induced variations and adaptations to altitude. Diving related cardiovascular and respiratory adaptations.
Body temperature: endotherms, ectotherms and heterotherms.
Endotherms: heat production and loss; physiological responses to environment temperature changes and to extreme temperatures (adaptive hypothermia in birds and mammals).
Ectotherms: preferred temperature and behavioural thermoregulation; physiological responses to extreme temperatures (cryoprotectants). Thermoregulation in Social Insects.

Assimilation of mineral nutrients. Nitrogen: nitrate and ammonium uptake and assimilation, conversion to aminoacids. Nitrate sensing and signalling: adaptation to fluctuating environments.
Programmed cell death (PCD): overview; PCD in plants and animals. PCD in plant life cycle: examples of developmental PCD (xylem formation and maturation of cereal endosperm); PCD as plant response to stress. Senescence: overview; impact of senescence on photosynthesis; environmental influences on senescence.
Interaction between plant and other organisms: symbiosis plant / Rhizobium; symbiosis plant / mycorrhizal fungi. Interactions with pathogens: genetic and molecular basis of plant-pathogen interactions; plant defense against phatogens (PTI, ETI, hypersensitive response and systemic defense)
Stress physiology: plant response to abiotic stress as drougth, ipo/anoxia, saline stress, oxidative stress, heat and cold/freezing stress, pollution.
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge of basic concepts of both cellular biology and plant physiology
Teaching methods
Lessons given by the teachers using PowerPoint slides. During the lessons, students will be encouraged to actively participate with questions and comments concerning the topics under analysis. Attendance is strongly recommended
Teaching Resources
- Reference texts:
1)Sherwood L., Klandorf H., Yancey P. Fisiologia degli animali. Zanichelli
2)Poli, Fabbri, Agnisola, Calamita, Santovito, Verri. Fisiologia Animale. Edises (Edizione: 2a 2018). ISBN: 9788879599023
3)L. Taiz, E. Zeiger, I. M. Møller, A Murphy Plant Physiology and Development Sixth edition, Sinauer (2018)
-Scientific papers and reviews discussed during lessons and loaded on Ariel
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of an oral discussion that focuses on the topics covered in the course. The duration of the exam is approximately 45 minutes, dedicated to verify the knowledge concerning both animal and plant organisms.
Evaluation criteria: assimilation of the contents and of the fundamental concepts of the matter; ability to communicate the acquired knowledge with specific terminology and language properties; transversal critical ability and connection skill between the different topics.
BIO/04 - PLANT PHYSIOLOGY - University credits: 0
BIO/09 - PHYSIOLOGY - University credits: 0
Lessons: 48 hours
By appointment
Via Mangiagalli 32