Disciplinary area: Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
Department: Agricultural Sciences
Coordinator: Prof. Severino Zara
Type of lessons: frontal and practical lessons 
Language: Italian - English


Brief description: The PhD program develops research training activities in the scientific sectors of the agricultural sciences. The course is divided into 6 Curricula, which operate within a common teaching plan to promote study and research activities.

Curriculum Agrometeorology and ecophysiology of agricultural and forest ecosystems (Referents: Prof. Maurizio Mulas and Roberto Furesi).

The lines of research mostly concern:

Analysis of the impact of the climate on agriculture and forest and natural ecosystems, with particular attention to the dynamics and adaptation and mitigation techniques.

Study of micrometeorological processes in agrarian, forest, and natural systems and of the dynamics that regulate carbon balance.

Analysis of ecophysiological processes in Mediterranean environments with reference to water stress conditions.

Analysis of the territorial vocation, with reference to the identification of bioclimatic indexes, to the studies of agricultural and forest vocationality, to the management of the green areas.

Modeling and simulation of crop water requirements and estimation of irrigation efficiency, in consideration of climate change in progress.

Analysis of the interactions between climate change and forest fire risk.

Development and validation of modeling for the study of the functionality and productivity of forest and agricultural systems.

Management and use of biodiversity and agro-biodiversity for the sustainability of crop systems.

Economic impacts of climate change on agricultural systems

Economics and Policy of Fire Management Activities and Programs


Curriculum Agricultural and food microbial biotechnology

(Referents: Prof. Costantino Fadda and Giacomo Zara).

The lines of research mostly concern:

Physiological and genetic characterization of bacteria, yeasts, and fungi also according to their use in the biotechnological and food industry.

Characterization of the microbiota in agricultural, forestry, agri-food, animal, and water ecosystems.

Selection of starter strains for agri-food related processes

Chemical-physical and sensory characterization of food products and impact of transformation / conservation operations on the evolution of the main biochemical parameters.

Impact of transformation / conservation operations on the content and activity of biological components present in food.

Determinants of plant pathogenicity and mycotoxigenic ability in filamentous fungi and development of alternative containment strategies.

Metabolomics as a new approach to nutritional research and its utility in the study of food and gut microbiota.


Curriculum Monitoring and control of forest ecosystems in Mediterranean environments (Referents: Prof. Paola Castaldi and Filippo Gambella).

The lines of research mostly concern:

Biodiversity study of the Mediterranean forest.

Climate-soil-biocenosis relations and influence of anthropic factors on the forest ecosystem.

Indicator species for monitoring the degradation status of forest ecosystems.

Identification of qualitative models for the different forest and mountain ecosystems through the monitoring of the main biological, geochemical and environmental indicators.

Definition of sustainable strategies aimed at the recovery and rehabilitation of degraded areas, as well as the improvement of the physical-chemical characteristics of soil and crop production.

Development of sustainable agroforestry systems and re-naturalization models of areas subject to reforestation with exotic species.

Evaluation of the state of natural equilibrium with the study of the composition of the biocenoses and identification of the taxonomic groups most sensitive to environmental pollution factors and their use as indicators of the same.

Studies on the bio-ecology of the main pathogens and phytophages in forest populations, and on the relative means of struggle.

Genetic biotechnologies applied to taxonomic phylogeny and environmental diagnostics.

Territorial information systems for monitoring and multi-dimensional representation of the elements studied, useful for the definition of models functional to the management of forest ecosystems.


Curriculum Productivity of cultivated plants

(Referents: Prof. Francesco Giunta and Monica Rodriguez).

The lines of research mostly concern:

Study of biological and agronomic factors that influence the production, growth and development of crop vegetable and floricultural species in protected cultivation and open field.

Evaluation of new sources of bioproducts with bioactivator and fertilizer function (struvite, biostimulants, lombricompost) for plant production and vegetable food quality improvement.

Integrative multi-omics approaches to identify the genetic basis of adaptation to changing environment in plants, to identify genes with key agronomic and economic relevance, and to facilitate crop improvement for climate resilience and superior nutritive value.

Population genetics to inform breeding strategies and to increase genetic gain.

Molecular profiling and barcoding of individual plants or populations of plant species of agricultural interest.

Crop physiology of cereal and grain legumes species adapted to the Mediterranean environment with particular emphasis on phenology, resource-use-efficiency, cropping systems for marginal areas, old cultivars and species, cereal grain quality.

Agricultural strategies to revert Mediterranean marginal/abandoned areas into newly productive agricultural systems

Eco-compatible strategies for weed management in the agro-ecosystems

Physiology of yield production of tree species adapted to the Mediterranean environment, with particular emphasis on the physiological effects of winter and green pruning on yield and quality of wine grapevines, and on water use efficiency in water-limited condition.


 Curriculum Livestock sciences and technologies

(Referents: Prof. Corrado Dimauro and Anna Nudda).

The lines of research mostly concern:

The study of the nutrition of animals of zootechnical interest, feeding techniques and methods of evaluation of livestock food.

Mathematical-statistical modeling applied to biological processes of zootechnical interest, to production systems, to the environmental impact of farms.

Studies on the relationship between feeding of the main species of zootechnical interest, quality, and safety of food products of animal origin.

Studies on genetic improvement and enhancement of biodiversity in species of zootechnical interest with quantitative and biotechnological genetic tools.

Studies on breeding techniques of both terrestrial and aquatic species of zootechnical interest.

Studies on the optimization of zootechnical systems, on the efficiency of machines and plants of livestock farms, on the relationship between animal management techniques and their well-being.

Sustainable and competitive livestock management economics and policy.


Desertification and land degradation

(Referents Prof. Giovanna Seddaiu and Giovanni Garau)

The lines of research mostly concern:

The research topics of this curriculum are dedicated on all the forms of land degradation, intended as the loss of actual or potential land productivity or utility as a result of natural or anthropic factors which affect food production and safety, livelihoods, and the production and provision of other ecosystem goods and services. In this context, desertification is a form of land degradation occurring in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas worldwide.

The specific research lines of the curriculum are:

-       Factors and forces leading to land degradation and desertification

-       Impacts of climate change on land degradation and desertification

-       Monitoring and assessment methodologies at different scales (from field to landscape)

-       Mitigation and adaptation strategies to cope with land degradation and desertification

-       Socio-economic and policy dimensions of land degradation and desertification


Common objectives

The common objective of the Course is to deepen interdisciplinary competences of the Agricultural Sciences, acquired in specific laboratories and in the open field (experimental companies) as well as in liaison with affiliated agencies and research agencies, under the supervision of an academic mentor. The PhD program in Agricultural Sciences also promotes internationalization through the carrying out of research periods abroad, the preparation of co-tutoring agreements with foreign researchers, the stipulation of agreements with foreign universities and research institutions and the presence in the board of professors of researchers from National and International universities and research institutions.

Teaching goals

The course aims to train experts in research and high professional qualifications in the following fields (albeit not exclusively): agrometeorology and plant ecophysiology; cropping systems; plant health; management and protection of agricultural and forest production systems; conservation, protection and enhancement of natural resources; sustainable water management; biotechnologies aimed at regional, national and international production needs; breeding techniques, livestock feeding, selection and selection of livestock animals also with the use of molecular biology techniques, quality and safety of food and feed products; desertification and soil degradation, economics of land degradation.

In the three years the PhD students acquire the scientific method and the skills for the preparation of experimental projects, the conduct of experimental plans and laboratory activities, the processing of data and the evaluation of statistical-experimental inferences, the disclosure of the facts of the research. according to international standards.


A good command of English is required for admission to the course. This includes 3 compulsory common courses taught entirely in English to improve communication and oral comprehension and use of scientific English in terms of: i) reading and understanding of scientific texts; ii) writing of scientific texts; iii) oral communication in scientific forums.

All courses are taught with bilingual material - Italian / English - and teachers use both languages during lessons. PhD students can attend the University Linguistic Center for a linguistic study.



The training of the Course is divided into three years and aims to train figures able to contribute to innovation and to the scientific and technological development of society. Every year for the new Doctoral Cycle activated, the Teaching Plan is formulated for a period of three years.

The preparation of the PhD students is aimed at research oriented both towards university teaching and for inclusion in public and private research institutions, both in the industrial and service world.

The total teaching commitment is 180 Research Training Credits (CFR). For admission to the second year, 42 CFR are required and admission to the third 102 CFR. All CFR must be achieved within the third year of the course. For courses which are common to the addresses and specific to the 1CFR address = 8 hours of teaching and 25 hours of the doctoral candidate's total commitment. Attendance is mandatory. A maximum of 25% is allowed on the total time of the scheduled lessons, with attendance of at least 75% for each course.

For PhD students without scholarship, the compulsory attendance is at least 30% of each course.

To encourage stays abroad and internships, doctoral students who do not attend scheduled classes as they are engaged in research activities elsewhere are admitted and must still take the final exams. In addition, the PhD student who has attended courses like those of the Course, arranged by the host institution, can request the evaluation of the accrued CFR. The decision on the evaluation will be taken by the Board of the Course.

They can be evaluated among the CFRs at the choice of the PhD student courses used outside the Course. Courses that require access to the master's degree and which include a final exam are eligible. The recognition of the number of CFR is delegated to the Board of the Course.

At the end of each academic year the student must produce a report of the activities carried out during the year. The report is evaluated by the Board for admission to the following year and the recognition of the CFR for the research activity.