Biotechnologies for Food Science

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In the 2016-2017 academic year, the University of Padova inaugurated a new Master Degree (Second Cycle Degree) entitled “Biotechnologies for Food Science " to be taught in English.
This programme is open to Italian and foreign students from the EU and abroad, interested in learning and implementing effective value-added practices for the production of high-quality food products both in the EU and in international markets. English knowledge must be minimum at B2 level (CEFR). Applying students might possibly have a three-year Bachelor’s degree in a field connected with the Master’s curriculum. Good background in molecular biology, biochemistry, and microbiology is requested. 
The “Biotechnologies for Food Science " Master degree (MSc) is an interdisciplinary and research-oriented Master of Science Programme and explores how to produce healthier and safer food following a cross-cutting, farm/field-to-fork approach. It is focused on the application of advanced biotechnologies in food production and safety and it is the ideal trait-d’union between the requests of consumers, of producers in the agro-food sector and research applied to production and food-safety.
The course has a strong component on cutting-edge methods, such as genomics, bioinformatics, proteomics, metabolomics, nanotechnologies, all in the context of animal and crop production as well as food quality and safety. Theoretical lessons are mixed with practical training, offering hands-on experience in advanced DNA, RNA, and protein analysis together with substantial lab sessions in bioinformatics. Lectures will deal with food production, hygiene and quality, molecular methods of agro-food analyses, effects of agro-biotech products on human beings and environments. Moreover environmental stresses, disease mechanisms, pathogens and pests will be treated as essential to understand how to protect crop and farm animals and how food might impact on human health: the lectures move across animal infectious disease, immunology, microbiology, plant pests and pathogens as well as abiotic stresses to show how biotechnology might help preventing disease and improve food production. As consumers are increasingly worried about the presence of contaminants in food and on the real origin of what they eat; the Programme includes a course in food toxicology and regulation, and one on traceability for food authentication.
Our Programme is based at the Agripolis campus, where are located four departments of the School of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine of the University of Padova, all of which contribute to the MSc course, offering the best opportunities for a rich, cross-disciplinary experience in a highly qualified scientific environment.
Teaching will include lectures and laboratory activities, practical exercises and seminars by experts; opportunities for intensive tutoring and for master thesis-related stages of at least six months duration will be available with outstanding companies in the sector of the food industry or with other relevant organisations in the private or public sphere. The Programme assists students to find suitable internship opportunities with qualified laboratories in Italy and abroad.

  Course structure

First year
During the first year of the programme the student will acquire knowledge on animal and crop genomics, focusing on the most advanced methods for high throughput genomic analysis (transcriptomics, genome-wide SNP analysis, epigenomics) and on the most recent approaches for selective breeding (genomic selection, genomic prediction). In parallel, the student will learn how bioinformatics tools might be applied to manage large sets of data, how biological data bases are organized and how to link different types of data. Extensive practical training in bioinformatics will be offered with various sessions in a dedicated lab. Food-borne pathogens and the positive role of microorganisms in food processes will be examined in an integrated microbiology course, while the molecular basis of pathology, host-response to infection, epidemiology, and diagnostics of transmissible diseases will form the basis of two courses. A course on biotechnology for crop production will introduce the molecular and physiological basis of crop production. Biotechnological approaches to improve crop yield, with particular attention to fruit production, and to reduce impact of abiotic stresses will examined. Molecular tools for food traceability and an intensive practical lab in DNA/RNA/protein analysis applied to food control will conclude the first year.

Second year
In the second year, the first semester have three courses. One will focus on novel technologies (proteomics, metabolomics, nanotechnology) and their application to food production. A second one will extend knowledge on plant biotechnology exploring advanced technologies for crop disease and pest management. A third one will deal with contaminants in food and food legislation. The second semester is completely dedicated to lab internship. It is possible to join a research lab in the campus or to have a working stage in the private sector.

  What will you learn

Course details a.y. 2021/22

120 ECTS – 2 years
12 course units 120 ECTS – 2 years
Applied genomics for animal and crop improvement
Students learn strategies for genomic analysis by exploring DNA sequencing technology, comparative genomics, sequence variation, genome expression, and genome evolution. Students extend these foundational principles to explore sequenced animal and crop plant genomes, gene families, gene expression and function, epigenetic phenomena. Student also learn statistical techniques to perform genome-wide association studies and genomic predictions. Genome variation is analysed and statistical procedures are taught in relation to plant and animal breeding programs and biotechnological applications.

Applied Bionformatics
The student will acquire a broad knowledge on the bioinformatics tools, currently available, that are relevant for the Biotechnologist for food Science. This goal will be achieved through a relevant practical activity performed in our bioinformatic rooms that are equipped with multiple computers. Thus, each student will be allowed to learn immediately how to use the studied programs

Food Microbiology and Food Microbial Biotechnology
The student will acquire knowledges on foodborne pathogens together with the properties, the production processes and the applications of microorganisms in the food industry, in food supplying industries and for bioanalytical purposes.

Molecular basis of disease, immunology, and transmissible diseases
The student will acquire knowledges on cell and molecular pathology, mechanism of cell damage and cell death, acute and chronic inflammation, wound repair, immune system and diseases, blood diseases and oncology

Laboratory of advanced DNA, RNA, and protein analysis
In this laboratory course, student will acquire technical expertise on extraction of nucleic acids from food matrices and analysis using molecular biology (PCR, real-time PCR) and theoretical and practical aspects aspects of proteomics applied to food technology.

Biotechnology for crop production
Student will learn molecular and physiological basis of crop production and biotechnological approaches to improve crop adaptation to a changing environment and to control vegetable products quality.

Epidemiology and risk analysis
Students will learn: Definition, scope and use of epidemiology; measures of health-related events (prevalence, incidence); sampling in epidemiological surveillance; validity of diagnostic tests (sensitivity, specificity, predictive values); epidemiological studies (case-control and cohort studies); the risk analysis process: hazard identification, risk assessment, risk management, risk communication

Traceability tools for species authentication
Student will acquire both theoretical knowledge and technical expertise on applied genomics for the implementation of molecular tools useful for marker-assisted selection and diagnostic assays useful for the genetic identification of species, plant varieties and animal breeds, including the genetic traceability of their food products and derivatives by means of DNA genotyping and DNA barcoding.

Advanced technologies for the agrifood sector (nanotechnologies, proteomics, metabolomics)
The course will deal with emerging technologies, based on nanomaterials, aimed at the isolation and purification of biomolecules of interest for the agri-food industry. Moreover, basics of non-conventional analytical biosensing devices will be proposed and applications for the agri-food industry will be evidenced. The course will also describe how mass-spectrometry based ‘omics’ technologies can be used in high-throughput screening to enable the production of food with enhanced safety, nutrition and functional attributes; and how extensive metabolic and proteomic profiling can help explore the roles, relationships, and actions of various types of biomolecules, thus providing information fundamental to understanding genes and their functions in health and disease.

Biotechnology for plant protection
Student will acquire knowledge on biology of plant pathogens and pests affecting quality and crop production; molecular techniques for pathogens and arthropods identification; mechanisms of infection of pre- and post-harvest pathogens; biotechnological strategies for the control of the main crop diseases and arthropod pests.

Food toxicology and food regulation
Students will be provided the knowledge about (a) the foremost classes of natural or anthropogenic substances that are likely to found in animal feeding stuffs or human foodstuffs; (b) basic concepts and criteria for biomarker discovery, validation and use in food toxicology; (c) high-throughput methodologies (i.e., NGS, microarray), bioassays and functional studies helpful in the field of toxicogenomics applied to food science (including specific case-studies); (d) in vitro toxicology; (e) principles on food legislation within and outside EU."

Foreign language (English)

  Career opportunities

As advanced biotechnologies increasingly move from research to production, the job market demands professional profiles that have a strong technological background and, at the same time are able to move across a variety of other specialized disciplines, and interact with all the different actors in the agro-food sector.
The broad cross-disciplinary expertise offered by our MSc programme will open job opportunities in private and public research centers, in public institutions dealing with animal health and food safety, in the private agro-food sector, at various levels from animal and crop production, food processing, to large food retail chains.

  International mobility (Erasmus+)

Many destinations are available for students' exchanges in the framework of the Erasmus+ programme.

For further information: Erasmus office

  Application procedures and admission requirements

If you have an international entry qualification, please follow the instructions available on HOW TO APPLY

If you have an Italian entry qualification, please refer to the Italian website - INFO ON ENGLISH REQUIREMENTS (B2 LEVEL)

Check the admission requirements here.

  Scholarships and other facilitations for students

The University of Padova offers different types of scholarships and fee-waivers to international students.

For detailed information: