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Program Presentation and Objectives

Active Cycles



Biodiversity in Agriculture and Forestry - International



Administration headquarters

University of Palermo, Italy

Consortium partners

University of Valencia, Spain

Hosting Department

Agricultural, Food and Forest Sciences (SAAF)
Viale delle Scienze, Edificio 4
90128 Palermo




Riccardo Lo Bianco


Vito Armando Laudicina

Period of research abroad

12 months

Total number of active students


Student services

Home Page SAAF


Research Areas:

  • Broaden the basic scientific knowledge of statistics, physics, biochemistry, plant biology, animal biology, microbiology, genetics, plant eco-physiology, biotechnology applied to plant and animal production, economics and agro-food and environmental policy.
  • Improve the knowledge related to the main experimental designs and the use of platforms and computer programs for the application of innovative approaches to molecular genetics and to the analysis of genetic and genomic data of animal, plant and microbial organisms, including techniques for the “genetic mapping” and “Quantitative Trait Loci” and latest generation sequencing analysis.
  • Apply high-throughput sequencing techniques of the genome and transcriptome to improve the selection of functional genes involved in abiotic and biotic stress resistance mechanisms, quality traits, and food safety.
  • Apply traditional and biotechnological methods to the study, characterization, and enhancement of plant, animal, and microbial biodiversity of the agricultural and forest environments, with an ecological and ecosystem perspective.
  • Use the results of molecular analysis and genetic mapping for the selection and constitution of new genotypes with a high degree of resilience to biotic and abiotic stress conditions.
  • Learn in situ and ex situ conservation methods for the biodiversity of animal, plant and microbial species of agricultural and forest interest and plan innovative protection and development strategies.
  • Acquire the organizational and cultural tools to transfer knowledge on environmental analysis and business organization of the production chains from a technological and socio-economic point of view to agricultural and forest systems.
  • Develop new sustainable production models in agriculture and forestry, based on the enhancement of the existing plant, animal, microbial, environmental, cultural and socio-economic biodiversity.
  • Develop and validate innovative, rapid, and precise biotic and abiotic stress diagnosis methods through coordinated investigations on animal and plant physiology and functional genomics to characterize and increase biodiversity in sustainable agricultural and forest systems.
  • Outline and validate new development models for the agro-food and forest chains based on the enhancement of the biological diversity (vegetable, microbiological, fungal, animal, environmental) of local agricultural production systems and traditional knowledge.
  • Analysis of land suitability, with particular reference to the identification of biochemical and nutraceutical indices and their use in the agro-food industry.
  • Use of local genetic resources for breeding and genetic improvement programs to obtain new genotypes suitable for more sustainable productions.
  • Analyze and develop sustainable and successful business models in the agro-food chains to compete in a globalized market.
  • Analyze the effectiveness of policies to contrast climate change and the consequent loss of biodiversity.
  • Analyze models of economic development and use of natural resources.
  • Crop diversification to minimize the use of external inputs for sustainable and resilient production systems.
  • Study and develop sustainable cultivation systems based on biodiversity at the service of agricultural production and conservative agriculture.
  • Increase plant biodiversity in environmental recovery and for the construction of green infrastructures (green roof, phytodepuration, rain gardens, lawns, city gardens).
  • Improve the multidisciplinary knowledge on ecosystem services of old forest systems.
  • Evaluate the main biotic and abiotic risk factors for the conservation of biodiversity in the forest and pre-forest systems.
  • Manage forest ecosystems by reconciling conservation needs with the social and economic development of local populations, operating according to the guidelines of systemic silviculture.
  • Develop microbiological indicators for monitoring soil degradation processes at different spatial and temporal scales.
  • Evaluate the main biotic and abiotic risk factors for soil conservation on a slope and river basin scale.
  • Identify techniques, also of Environmental Engineering, for the conservation of slope and river ecosystems.
  • Identify innovative soil conservation strategies aimed at safeguarding and implementing the ecosystem services associated with them.
  • Introduce IT platforms with "Smart Agriculture", "Precision Farming" and "Internet of Things" systems for monitoring and real-time control of production processes to exploit the biodiversity of niche agri-food products.
  • Analyze and evaluate the environmental efficiency, production attitudes, and ecosystem functionality of soils in natural and man-made environments.
  • Environmental risk assessment of deliberate and/or accidental release of pesticides and biotechnological products (GMO, RNAi).