Plant Physiology


Department: School of Science / Graduate School of Science

Class Time: 2014 Fall Tuesday
Recommended for: G30 Biology Programs
Term V

close Course Overview

In Brief

This course provides students with a comprehensive understanding of concepts, principles, and strategies concerning the basic mechanisms underlying plant growth, development, and survival. Topics covered include mineral nutrition, solute transport, photosynthesis, respiration, metabolism, environmental and developmental signals, and plant hormone action.

Key Features

The course is designed to give the student an opportunity to practice oral presentations. Each student gets involved in this active-learning process by giving two presentations during the 15 week-course period.

Initially the instructor gives two lectures at the beginning of the course. From class 3 of the course, one to three students per class, depending on the size of the class, are assigned to give individual presentations on a specific topic(s) from the textbook chapter (see the attached student presentation schedule of 2014). Each student presentation is followed by a question-and-answer session and a discussion session involving all students in the class. Finally, class is concluded with a lecture by the instructor that summarizes and supplements student presentations.

This active-learning method applied to the course aims to help students;
- develop his/her oral communication skills,
- stimulate discussion in the class,
- become self-motivated to learn in an active and creative manner.

Examples of the student presentations (PDF files of Ppt presentation slides) from the classes of 2013 and 2014 are shown in the "Class Materials" section below.

Teacher's Tips

In general...
1)Attend all classes!!!
Before coming to each class...
2) Read the assigned textbook chapter(s)
3) Prepare your questions on lecture topic(s)
In class...
4) Participate in classroom discussions
In making and improving your PowerPoint presentation (ppt)...
5) Follow presentation guidelines to organize your ppt
6) Send your ppt to instructor a few days prior to your presentation and get advice
7) Revise your ppt by including all suggestions given by the instructor

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Course Schedule

Date Topic Sub-topic Chapter & Page
Week 1 Course Overview -  Plant Growth and Development Chapter 16
Week 2 1. Plant Cells - Overview of Plant Structure
- The endomembrane system
- The plant cytoskeleton
- The plant cell cycle
- Plasmodesmata
Chapter 1
Week 3 2. Genome
Organization & Gene Expression
- Nuclear Genome Organization
- Plant Cytoplasmic Genomes
- Posttranslational Regulation
- Genetic Modification of Plants
- Tools for Studying Plant Genes
Chapter 2
Week 4 3. Mineral Nutrition & Solute Transport - Essential Nutrients
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Soil, Roots, and Microbes
Chapter 5
Week 5 4. Overview of Photosynthesis & Translocation in the Phloem - General Concepts
- Pathways of Translocation
- Patterns of Translocation
- Phloem Loading & Unloading
- Photosynthate Distribution
Chapter 10
Week 6 5. Respiration - Overview of Plant Respiration
- Plant Glycolysis
- Respiration in Intact Plants
Chapter 11
Week 7 6. Plant Defense & Adaptation to Abiotic Stress - Secondary Metabolites & Plant Defense
- Biotic & Abiotic Stresses
- Adaptation & Plasticity
- Developmental & Physiological Mechanisms
Chapter 13

Chapter 26
Week 8 Review (I) - Topics 1-6
Midterm Exam
Week 9 7. Cell Walls: Structure, Biogenesis, and Expansion I - Structure and Synthesis
-  Patterns of Cell Expansion
- The Rate of Cell Expansion
Chapter 15
Week 10 8. Plant hormones in Plant Growth & Development-I: AUXIN - Overview of Plant Growth
- The Auxin Concepts
- Transport
- Signal Transduction Pathways
- Actions and Effects
Chapter 19
Week 11 9. Plant hormones in Plant Growth & Development-II: GIBBERELLINS - Discovery and Structure
- Effects on Plant Growth
- Biosynthesis and Deactivation
- GA Signaling
- GA Responses
Chapter 20
Week 12 10. Plant hormones in Plant Growth & Development-III: CYTOKININS - Cell Division & Plant Growth
- Biosynthesis, Metabolism, & Transport
- Cytokinin Signaling
- Biological Roles
Chapter 21
Week 13 11. Plant hormones in Plant Growth & Development-IV: ABSCISIC ACID - Chemical Structure
- Biosynthesis, Metabolism, & Transport
- Signal Transduction Pathways
- Biological Roles
Chapter 23
Week 14 12. Plant hormones in Plant Growth & Development-V: ETHYLENE & BRASSINOSTEROIDS - Structuture, Biosynthesis
- Signal Transduction Pathways
- Effects on Growth & Development
Chapter 22

Chapter 24
Week 15 Review (II) - Topics 7-12
Final Exam

Office Hours

Office hours: Thursday, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm


Plant Physiology: International Edition (5th revised edition, 2010) by Taiz, L. and Zeiger, E., Sinauer Associates Inc., USA. ISBN: 0878935657

Reference Book

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology of Plants (1st edition, 2002) by Buchanan, B., Gruissem, W., and Jones, R., Wiley, USA. ISBN: 0943088399

Related Course

Physiology I: Term III, Monday period 3 (13:00-14:30)

Course Requirements

None. Strongly recommended to complete Physiology I and Biochemistry I courses prior to taking this course.

Course Withdrawal

With a written request sent to the instructor before/on October 28 via e-mail, you can cancel a course assignment without it appearing on your record.


Grades will be determined by a combination of written examinations, assigned presenations, and attendance & performance (e.g., participation in discussions) in class. Homework, exams and performance will be weighted as follows:

  • Presentations (2) 300 pts (150 points each*)
  • Midterm (1) 250 pts
  • Final (1) 250 pts
  • Attendance and performance 200 pts
  • Total 1,000 pts

The semester letter grade will then be determined either by an absolute standard or on a curve, whichever benefits the students most at each letter grade cut off:

  • S = 90 - 100% of the total points
  • A = 80 - 89% of the total points
  • B = 70 - 79% of the total points
  • C = 60 - 69% of the total points
  • F = below 59% of the total points

Criteria for Absent & Fail Grades

No Absent grade will be given in this course. Students who fail to attend 3 or more lectures will immediately get an F (Fail) grade.

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Student Pesentation Guidelines

Each student will give a 20 minute oral presentation describing 1) a topic or topics from an assigned textbook chapter, 2) a research article referred to in the chapter, or 3) a recent research paper related to the chapter topic. The presentation will be followed by 10 minutes of questions from the audience. Here are instructions and a few and tips to help you prepare your presentation.

  1. Read the textbook chapter carefully to fully understand your presentation topic. You must become an expert on the topic.
  2. Figure out the major points of your presentation. What concepts are most important in introducing the topic to the audience? Keep this in mind when organizing your presentation.
  3. Prepare about a 20 min slide presentation. Use Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote for making your presentation. In general, plan to use a slide per minute or two in your presentation; this means that you need about 15 to 20 slides for a 20 min presentation.
  4. Avoid ‘wordy’ slides. Instead, use graphic images (i.e., photographs, drawings, diagrams, charts, etc.) from textbook, articles, or websites (or those created by yourself!!). This helps you explain complex ideas and concepts. Also, use of simple animations may be effective. IMPORTANT: Sources of graphic images, if not your own, must be acknowledged on the slide.
  5. Include a slide with references at the end of your presentation.
  6. If you present a research article, you must include slides to explain the following aspects;
    • the “big question” being asked in the article;
    • research background and history;
    • materials and methods being used for experiments and observation;
    • data generated;
    • conclusions;
    • the significance of the paper;
    • the major discovery or discoveries and remaining questions
    • ‘take home’ message(s)
  7. IMPORTANT: Presentation must be submitted by e-mail to the instructor 24 hours before your presentation.
  8. Submit a 2-3 page summary of your presentation via e-mail within a week after your presentation.

Examples of student presentation

a. From the class of 2016(Masami Hazu)

b. From the class of 2014 (Annisa Firdaus Winta Damarsya) (PDF, 8862KB)

c. From the class of 2013 (Foo Wei Ten) (PDF, 2121KB)

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Page last updated September 8, 2015

The class contents were most recently updated on the date indicated. Please be aware that there may be some changes between the most recent year and the current page.

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