Academic Year 2023/2024 - Teacher: ALESSANDRO VITALE

Expected Learning Outcomes

The teaching course aims to ensure the acquisition of basic knowledge of taxonomy, biological aspects and diagnostic criteria of the "key" phytopathogenic fungi. The student will acquire skills in identifying some effective management indications both in the nursery and in the open field and in professional updating for this area.

Exercises and seminars will always be aimed to identifying the fungal disease and, comprehensively, to the ability to problem solving.

Specifically, the student is expected to acquire comprehension skills, communicative abilities, and independent judgment according to the Dublin descriptors, as follows:

Knowledge and Understanding - (Dublin 1) [Knowledge and understanding]

At the end of the course, the student must demonstrate a basic understanding of diagnostic and taxonomic criteria, symptomatology, biological aspects, and fundamental principles of combating phytopathogenic fungi.

Assessment Method: Oral exam.

Applied Knowledge and Understanding - (Dublin 2) [Applying knowledge and understanding]

By the end of the course, the student should be able to apply the knowledge acquired to identify fungal alterations, understand their symptoms and biology, provide useful sustainable control recommendations in nursery and field settings, and evaluate and interpret experimental and literature data.

Assessment Method: Oral exam.

Independent Judgment - (Dublin 3) [Making judgments]

At the end of the course, the student should demonstrate the ability to formulate informed interpretative judgments based on the acquired knowledge. They should be able to weigh various aspects of plant mycology in research activities extracted from scientific publications and autonomously analyze plant pathogenic issues with fungal etiology.

Assessment Method: Oral examination following the presentation of a scientific publication.

Communicative Skills - (Dublin 4) [Communication]

By the end of the course, the student should demonstrate the ability to use technical terminology appropriately, adapt oral and written communication forms to the required level and specific purposes. Similarly, the student should be able to analyze and synthesize a scientific publication and present their work to colleagues.

Assessment Method: Oral exam aimed to assess the student's ability to summarize a scientific article.

Learning Skills - (Dublin 5) [Lifelong learning skills]

Upon completing the course, the student should be able to keep their knowledge and skills up to date, grasping essential and relevant aspects of the course for their professional context within a legally, ethically, and scientifically correct framework. They should understand the topics both within a group and independently, connect not only the subjects covered during the course but also identify connections between the themes discussed in this discipline and other areas.

Assessment Method: Partially through an oral interview.

Course Structure

Teaching course includes theoretical lessons for a total of 28 hours and other practical activities (classroom and laboratory exercises, educational visits, seminars, etc.) for also a total of 28 hours. If teaching is given in a mixed formula or remotely, necessary changes may be introduced to what was previously stated in order to comply with the provided and reported syllabus. Frontal lessons and lectures, exercises and educational visits. For the lessons we will make use of multimedia presentations, slides, computer databases, summary and explanatory diagrams in paper format that will allow us a better undertsanding of the basic concepts and the basics of phytopathological mycology. The laboratory exercises will be aimed at the recognition of diseases and the identification of fungal pathogens. Field visits and educational excursions will take place on other days and times to be agreed with the students by phone (095-7147413). Learning assessment can be done remotely if necessary.

Information for students with disabilities and/or specific learning disabilities (SLA)

As guarantee of equal opportunities and in compliance with current laws, interested students can ask for a personal interview in order to plan any compensatory and/or dispensatory measures, based on their specific needs and on teaching objectives of the discipline. It is also possible to ask the departmental contacts of CInAP (Center for Active and Participatory Inclusion - Services for Disabilities and/or DSAs), in the person of professor Anna De Angelis.

Required Prerequisites

Although there are no mandatory prerequisites, the required pre-knowldge involves basic understanding of biology and plant pathology

Attendance of Lessons

although it is not mandatory the lesson frequency is strongly recommended also according to practical nature of teaching course.

Detailed Course Content

Mycology in Plant Pathology

* Topics Text 
*1. Importance of fungal diseases: economic, historical, social and geographical consequences; examples of devastating fungal diseases in history Lectures;
Text 1 chap 1 Text 3 chap 1
*2. The infected plant: concept of plant disease, classification criteria
of diseases, pathological morphology, symptomatology, anatomy
pathological, physiological and functional alterations; quantification of the fungal inoculum, quantification of the symptoms of a fungal disease; determination of varietal susceptibility to a fungal disease and virulence level of a fungal pathogen
Text 1 chap 2, 5; Text 3 chap 6
*3. Fungal diseases: General characters of fungi, structure
and vegetative organization, fungal hypha, nutrition, influence
of the environment on fungal development, germination and spore dispersal, reproduction of fungi: sexual and asexual spores;
main symptomatic expressions; types of fungal diseases
Text 2 chap 5 Text 3 chap 2
*4. The classification of phytopathogenic fungi: classification
taxonomic and other classifications, general characters, nomenclature, fungal structures, identification, optical and electronic microscopy, culture isolation, use of indicator plants, serodiagnosis, molecular diagnosis


Text 1 chap 3, 12; Text 2 chap 5, 6; Text 3 chap 2; Text 4: chap 11

*5. Parasitism in phytopathogenic fungi: relationship between organisms, ecological relationships, symbiotic relationships: mutualism, commensalism and pathosism; trophic relationships in parasitism, parasitic specialization Lectures;
Text 1 chap 4 Text 3 chap 1
*6. Life cycle of fungal diseases: epidemiology and factors affecting the development of epidemics, different forms of epidemic and consequent control strategies Lectures;
Text 2 chap 5; Text 3 chap 6; Text 4 chap 11
*7. Attack mechanism of phytopathogenic fungi: the 
infection process: i) initial contact, ii) penetration mechanisms, iii) colonization mechanisms (biotrophic colonization and
necrotrophic colonization), iv) fungal evasion
Text 1 chap 6; Text 2 chap 5; Text 3 chap 5, 6 
*8. Toxigenic fungi and mycotoxins Lectures
Text 1 chap 12 (tab square 12.1); Text 2 chap 13; Text 3 chap 5, 8
*9. Phytopathogenic quarantine fungi


Text 3 chap 7

*10. Fungi used in biological control of plant diseases Lectures
*11. Control of fungal diseases: efficacy of control means in laboratory; disease control strategies or approaches, control methods and means in the field; fungicide application and fungicide resistance; Control of soilborne fungi Lectures;

Text 1 chap 9 Text 3 chap 7

*12. Websites of mycological interest Lectures
13. Kingdom Protozoa: diseases caused by Plasmodiophoromycota Lectures;
Text 1 chap 12 Text 4 chap 11
*14. Kingdom Chromista: diseases caused by Oomycota, general characters and identification. Plasmopara viticola, Phytophthora infestans, P. citrophthora e P. nicotianae and other phytopatogenic Pythium spp., Bremia spp., Peronospora spp. and Pseudoperonospora spp. Lectures;
Text 1 chap 12 Text 3 chap 8 Text 4 chap 11
15. Kingdom Fungi: disease caused by Chytridiomycota Lectures;
Text 1 chap 12 Text 3 chap 8 Text 4 chap 11
16. Kingdom Fungi: diseases caused by Zygomycota, general characters and identification. Rhyzopus stolonifer Lectures;
Text 1 chap 12 Text 3 chap 8 Text 4 chap 11
*17. Kingdom Fungi: diseases caused by Ascomycota, general characters and identification. Taphrina deformans, Venturia inaequalis, Glomerella cingulata (Colletotrichum), Penicillium spp., Erysiphe necator, Leveillula taurica, Sphaeroteca pannosa, Blumeria graminis, Claviceps purpurea, Chryphonectria parasitica, Botrytis cinerea, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, Monilinia fructigena, Monilinia laxa, Monilinia fructicola, Monosporascus cannonballus, Mycosphaerella spp.; Lectures;
Text 1 chap 12 Text 3 chap 8 Text 4 chap 11
*18. Kingdom Fungi: diseases caused by Basidiomycota, general characters and identification. Armillaria mellea, Ustilago maydis, Puccinia spp,Sclerotium rolfsii, Rhizoctonia solani Lectures;
Text 1 chap 12 Text 3 chap 8 Text 4 chap 11
*19 Mitosporic fungi - Diseases caused by mitosporic fungi (Fungi Imperfecti): general characters and identification: Plenodomus tracheiphilus, Spilocea oleagina, Fusicladium (Spilocea) eryobotriae,
Seiridium cardinale, Verticillium albo-atrum, F. oxysporum f.sp. radicis-lycopersici, Alternaria solani
Text 4: chap 11
20. Laboratory exercises: Isolation in pure culture of pathogens
fungi; identification of some of the most important of phytopathogenic fungi; obtaining monoconidic (monosporic) cultures (colonies)
21. Laboratory exercises: determination of the inoculum level in the soil; determination of concentration of fungal propagules; observation of the reproductive structures of fungi with an optical microscope and a stereomicroscope  
22. Laboratory exercises: use of mating types for 
diagnostics purposes; preparation and phases of freeze-drying fungi;  in vitro efficacy of fungicides against target fungal pathogens

* Essential knowledge that can not be renounced for passing the examination.

N.B. The knowledge of the topics marked with an asterisk is a necessary but not sufficient condition for passing the exam. Responding sufficiently or even more than enough to the questions on these topics does not, therefore, ensure that the exam is passed.

Textbook Information

1. Matta A. Fondamenti di Patologia Vegetale. Patron Editore, Bologna, seconda edizione 2017.

2. Belli G. Elementi di Patologia Vegetale. Editore Piccin, Padova, seconda edizione 2012.

3. Vannacci G. Patologia vegetale. Edises Università, Napoli prima edizione 2021

4. Agrios G.N. Plant Pathology (5th edition). Academic Press, New York

Other texts

- Deacon J.W. Micologia moderna. Calderini, Edagricole.

- Goidanich G., Manuale di Patologia vegetale. Edagricole Bologna. vol. I-IV.

- Hartman G. Atlante delle malattie delle piante. Franco Muzzio Editore, Padova

Teaching material and lectures supplied by the professor during the course
Recommended sites: www.apsnet.org.

Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1*1. Importance of Fungal Diseases: Economic, Historical, Social, and Geographic Consequences of Fungal Diseases; Examples of Devastating Fungal Diseases in HistoryLecture notes; Text 1 chap 1; Text 3 chap 1
2*2. The Diseased Plant: Concept of Disease, Classification Criteria for Diseases, Pathological Morphology, Symptomatology, Pathological Anatomy, Physiological and Functional Alterations; Quantification of Fungal Inoculum, Quantification of Symptoms of a Fungal Disease; Determination of Varietal Susceptibility to a Fungal Disease and Virulence of a Fungal PathogenLecture notes; Text 1 chapters 2 and 5; Text 3 chap 6
3*3. Fungal Diseases: General Characteristics of Fungi, Vegetative Structure and Organization, Fungal Hyphae, Nutrition, Environmental Influence on Fungal Development, Germination and Dispersal of Spores, Reproduction of Fungi: Sexual and Asexual Spores; Major Symptomatic Expressions; Types of Fungal DiseasesLecture notes; Text 2 chap 5; Text 3 chap 2
4*4. The Classification of Phytopathogenic Fungi: Taxonomic Framework and Classification, General Characteristics, Nomenclature, Fungal Structures, Identification, Optical and Electron Microscopy, Culture Isolation, Use of Indicator Plants, Serodiagnosis, Molecular Diagnosis.Lecture Notes; Text 1 chapters 3 and12; Text 2 chapters 5 and 6; Text 3 chap 2; Text 4 chap 11;
5*5. Parasitism in Phytopathogenic Fungi: Relationship between Organisms, Ecological Relationships, Symbiotic Relationships: Mutualism, Commensalism, and Pathosism; Trophic Relationships in Parasitism, Parasitic SpecializationLecture notes; Text 1 chap 4; Text 3 chap 1
6*6. Development cycle of Fungal Diseases: Epidemiology and Factors Influencing Epidemic Development, Different Forms of Epidemics, and Consequent Defense StrategiesLecture Notes; Text 2 chap 5; Text 3 chap 6; Text 4 chap 11
7*7. Mechanism of Attack by Phytopathogenic Fungi: The Infection Process: i) Initial Contact, ii) Penetration Mechanisms, iii) Colonization Mechanisms (Biotrophic Colonization and Necrotrophic Colonization), iv) Fungal Evasion.Lecture Notes; Text 1 chap 6; Text 2: chap 5; Text 3 chapters 5 and 6
8*8. Quarantine Phytopathogenic FungiLecture Notes; Text 3 chap 7
9*9. Antagonistic fungi used for biological control of plant diseasesLecture notes
10*10. Control of Fungal Diseases: Efficacy of Control Measures in the Laboratory; Strategies or Approaches to Control, Principles, Methods, and Means of Field Defense; the Use of Fungicides and Fungicide Resistance; Control of Soilborne PathogensLecture Notes; Text 1 chap 9; Text 3 chap 7
11*11. Websites of mycological interestLecture notes;
1212. Protozoa Kingdom: Diseases Caused by PlasmodiophoromycotaLecture notes; Text 1 chap 12; Text 4 chap 11
13*13. Chromista Kingdom: Diseases Caused by Oomycota - Overview and Identification. Plasmopara viticola, Phytophthora infestans, P. citrophthora, and P. nicotianae, and other phytopathogenic species, Pythium spp., Bremia spp., Peronospora spp., and Pseudoperonospora sppLecture Notes; Text 1 chap 12; Text 3 chap 8; Text 4 chap 11
1414. Fungi Kingdom: Diseases caused by ChytridiomycotaLecture Notes; Text 1 chap 12; Text 3 chap 8; Text 4 chap 11
1515. Fungi Kingdom: Diseases caused by Zygomycota Overview and identification. Lecture Notes; Text 1 chap 12; Text 3 chap 8; Text 4 chap 11
16*16. Kingdom Fungi: Diseases Caused by Ascomycota - Overview and Identification. Taphrina deformans, Venturia inaequalis, Glomerella cingulata (Colletotrichum), Penicillium spp., Erysiphe necator, Leveillula taurica, Sphaeroteca pannosa, Blumeria graminis, Claviceps purpurea, Chryphonectria parasitica, Botrytis cinerea, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, Monilinia fructigena, Monilinia laxa, Monilinia fructicola, Monosporascus cannonballus,Lecture Notes; Text 1 chap 12; Text 3 chap 8; Text 4 chap 11
17*17. Kingdom Fungi: Diseases Caused by Basidiomycota - Overview and Identification. Armillaria mellea, Ustilago maydis, Puccinia spp., Sclerotium rolfsii, Rhizoctonia solani.Lecture Notes; Text 1 chap 12; Text 3 chap 8; Text 4 chap 11
18*18. Mitosporic Fungi - Diseases Caused by Mitosporic Fungi (Fungi Imperfecti group): Overview and Identification. Phoma tracheiphila, Spilocaea oleaginea, Fusicladium (Spilocaea) eryobotriae, Seiridium cardinale, Verticillium albo-atrum, Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. radicis-lycopersici, Alternaria solani.Lecture Notes; Text 4 chap 11
1919. Laboratory Exercises: Isolation in Pure Culture of Phytopathogenic Fungal Pathogens; Identification of Some of the Most Important Genera of Phytopathogenic Fungi; Monoconidial Fungal Cultures
2020. Laboratory Exercises: Determination of Microbial Load in Soil; Determination of Fungal Conidial Suspension Concentration; Observation of Fungal Reproductive Structures under an Optical Microscope and Stereomicroscope
2121. Laboratory Exercises: In Vitro Efficacy Testing of Fungicides against Target Fungal Pathogens

Learning Assessment

Learning Assessment Procedures

Learning evaluation will be assessed by oral examinations. No checks in progress are foreseen. A single meeting is planned in the mid of course to ascertain the learning level and the interest degree of the students with clarification of doubts. The evaluation of the student's preparation will take place on the basis of the following criteria: learning ability and level of depth of the topics covered, quality of the contents, ability to connect with other topics covered within the program, properties of synthesis and exposure, ability to report practical examples and student's reasoning skills.

Verification of learning can also be carried out by online way if it will be necessary.

The score assignment follows the adopted scheme:

Not suitable for passing examination

Knowledge and understanding of the topic: Heavy shortcomings. Significant inaccuracies

Ability to analyze and synthesize: Irrelevant. Frequent generalizations. Inability to synthesize

Use of references: Completely inappropriate


Knowledge and understanding of the topic: At the threshold level. Obvious imperfections

Analysis and synthesis skills: Just enough skills

Use of references: As appropriate


Knowledge and understanding of the topic: Routine knowledge Analysis and synthesis skills: It is capable of correct analysis and synthesis. Argue logically and consistently

Using references: Use standard references


Knowledge and understanding of the topic: Good knowledge

Analysis and synthesis skills: Has good analysis and synthesis skills. The topics are expressed consistently

Using references: Use standard references


Knowledge and understanding of the topic: Knowledge more than good

Ability to analyze and synthesize: He has considerable abilities of analysis and synthesis

Use of references: Has well explored the topics


Knowledge and understanding of the topic: Excellent knowledge

Ability to analyze and synthesize: He has considerable abilities of analysis and synthesis.

Use of references: Important insights. 

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

1. Main fungal pathogens with soilborne habitus

2. Main airborne fungal pathogens

3. Classification criteria for phytopathogenic fungi

4. Parasitism in phytopathogenic fungi

5. Life cycle and attack ways in phytopathogenic fungi

6. Epidemiological aspects of plant fungal pathogens

7. Diagnostic aspects of plant fungal diseases

8. Main diseases caused by Oomycetes, Zygomycetes, Ascomycetes, Basidiomycetes and Deuteromycetes