Subject: Biotechnology

Scientific Area:



66 Hours

Number of ECTS:




Overall objectives:

1 - To give an integrated overview of the central tenets of modern biology.
2 - To provide an understanding of key genetic processes at the molecular level, and their exploitation for gene manipulation.
3 - To learn basic techniques in molecular biology.
4 - To highlight the emerging field of biotechnology through genetic engineering and its potential application in several areas.
5 - To raise awareness of ethical issues of biotechnology.
6 - At the end the students should be able to: - understand and use proper terminology in basic and applied molecular biology; - outline the features of the control mechanisms that regulate the expression of genes, the tools used to study such processes and those used to assess the function of genes; - describe the risks and opportunities of transgenic organisms; - acquire practical and team work skills; - improve the skills of analytical thinking, oral and writing; - use web resources; - search and read scientific information.


1 - BIOTECHNOLOGY. An overview. Definitions and applications.
2 - MOLECULAR BIOLOGY. Basics. Current version of the central dogma of molecular biology. Gene expression (dsRNA, siRNA).
3 - MANIPULATION AND DNA ANALYSIS. Enzymes and molecules used in the manipulation and modification of DNA. Methods of DNA and protein analysis. Cloning vectors. Strategies for the isolation and cloning of genes. Bioinformatic resources.
4 - TRANSFER OF GENETIC INFORMATION. Transformation of bacteria and plants. Transduction. Transgenesis. Methods of transfection.
5 - GENETIC ENGINEERING APPLICATIONS. In plants. Impact, advantages and associated problems. Production of proteins. Vectors for expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Production of recombinant pharmaceuticals. Gene therapy: strategies and vectors.
6 - ETHICS AND BIOTECHNOLOGY. Biosafety. Transgenic foods. Ethical values of animal biotechnology. Genetic testing, legal implications and public concerns for human gene therapy.


R. Weaver , 2012 , Molecular Biology , McGraw-Hill
T.A. Brown , 2010 , Gene Cloning and DNA Analysis: An Introduction , Wiley-Blackwell
D.S.T. Nicholl , 2008 , An Introduction to Genetic Engineering , Cambridge University Press
A. Videira , 2001 , Engenharia Genética. Princípios e Aplicações , Lidel
C.M. Arraiano, A.M. Fialho , 2007 , O Mundo do RNA. Fundamentos e Aplicações , Lidel
xxx , Artigos científicos de revisão ou investigação ,

Assesssment methods and criteria:

Classification Type: Quantitativa (0-20)

Evaluation Methodology:
Teaching methods includes lectures, team work, individual work, and practical lessons. Some preparatory work beforehand will be necessary to understand and perform practical work. Papers, problem-solving or bioinformatic assignment may follow the lectures. The learning outcomes of knowledge and understanding are examined through: two written exams covering syllabus (50% of final mark) and a written exam covering the contents of the theoretical-practical and practical programs (50% of final mark).