Module Identifier BS34120  
Academic Year 2000/2001  
Co-ordinator Dr Ian Scott  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Luis Mur  
Pre-Requisite BS21520 Practical Skills in Biochemistry or, BS21920 Understanding Proteins & Enzymes or, BS22120 Evolution & Molecular Systematics, BS22520 Molecular Biology, BS22620 Exploring Genetics, BS22820 Genetics & Medical Biochemistry  
Course delivery Lecture   30 Hours  
  Workshop   3 Hours  
Assessment Exam   3 Hours One 3-hour theory exam   70%  
  Continuous assessment   Continuous assessment of workshop oral and written presentation   30%  
  Resit assessment   3 Hours 3 hour theory exam (plus resubmission of failed coursework or an alternative)    

Aims and objectives
The module is intended to provide an up-to-date insight into an area of biology which presents many challenges and opportunities, and in which a number of innovative new approaches are producing advances (and media controversy). The module will explore topics in plant development and physiology that present opportunities for genetic manipulation, with emphasis on local research expertise in IBS and IGER. Topics will be reviewed so as to be understandable to students with a range of interests and backgrounds.

The module will commence with an overview of the techniques of plant biotechnology, which are themselves of fundamental interest. These include the behaviour of plant cells cultured in vitro, and their requirement for auxin and cytokinin for growth and shoot regeneration. The natural transfer of auxin and cytokinin genes to plant cells in crown gall tumours induced by Agrobacterium tumefaciens will be covered, and will lead to the use of this bacterium for genetic modification of higher plants. Direct methods of plant cell transformation will be discussed, along with the plant material to which they are applied, such as embryogenic cultures.

Features of plant biology with the potential for genetic modification will be reviewed from the whole plant to the molecular levels. Developmental aspects of plant physiology will emphasize plant hormones, which have been involved in the earliest examples of plant genetic modification. A range of topics relating to stem elongation will be covered. The role of gibberellins and the newly discovered brassinosteroids in stem growth will be reviewed with particular emphasis on genes and their isolation. Some of the most important breeding genes in wheat and rice, responsible for the so-called Green Revolution, are involved in gibberellin signal transduction and have recently been cloned.

The nature of senescence as a programmed phenomenon is outlined, together with a discussion of examples of its conventional genetic and transgenic modification, for example using the Agrobacterium cytokin biosynthesis gene ipt.

Plant responses to stresses such as heat, cold and drought have immense agricultural importance, and projections of climate change emphasize the urgency of improving crop tolerances of these abiotic stresses. Considerable research progress has been made in recent years in the isolation of genes that may contribute plant stress tolerance.

Workshops will enable students to focus on topics of particular interest in preparing an advanced essay and seminar presentation.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module, the student should appreciate

Reading Lists
** Recommended Text
Taiz, L. & Zeiger, E.. (1998) Plant physiology. 2nd. Sinauer.