BIOL254-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024

Principles of Plant Physiology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 15 July 2024
End Date: Sunday, 10 November 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 28 July 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 29 September 2024


The principles of plant development, including the basic anatomy of higher plants, and how they grow, respond to external stimuli and reproduce. Relationship between these concepts and developments in agriculture and biotechnology.

To introduce the principles of plant growth and development, including the basic anatomy of vascular plants, physiology of acquisition of vital resources (water, minerals and carbon), and how they grow and reproduce. To give an overview of the processes associated with the uptake and transport of water and mineral nutrients in plants, acquisition of carbon, and the responses of plants to external stimuli and adverse growth conditions. To relate the relevance of plant physiology principles to developments in agriculture and biotechnology.

Learning Outcomes

As a student in this course, I will develop the ability to:
* Understand the scientific practice and principles of plant functional and developmental biology (Graduate Attribute 1: Mastery of discipline), and how knowledge about these concepts is relevant to traditional and contemporary realities of Māori society (Graduate Attribute 4: Biculturally competent and confident) and has led to improved productivity in modern agriculture (Graduate Attribute 2: Employable, innovative and enterprising): (assessment items: short revision quizzes and final exam).
* Understand basic skills in plant laboratory science and interpret experimental data (Graduate Attribute 2: Employable, innovative and enterprising): (assessment items: lab reports).
* Access and utilise the scientific literature on plant physiology (Graduate Attribute 1: Mastery of discipline and 2: Employable, innovative and enterprising): (assessment items: short library research assignments on selected lab session topics)

Transferable Skills / Pūkenga Ngaio
As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
1. Completing tasks in a laboratory. Important in many science-related courses and jobs. We will have lab. instructions on what is required in each lab. session. (Graduate Attribute 2: Employable, innovative and enterprising): (assessment items: lab reports).
2. Providing required information in a written form of acceptable standard. This is necessary in most science-related courses and jobs. We will provide feedback on lab reports and short library research assignments on selected lab session topics. (Graduate Attribute 2: Employable, innovative and enterprising): (assessment items: lab reports and research assignments).
3. Synthesising information. In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to read information from different sources, construct your own understanding and shape your own viewpoint. In lectures we will discuss recent research papers in a group environment and this will develop your abilities to identify the essential elements of research outputs - you will then use in report writing. (Graduate Attribute 2: Employable, Innovative and Enterprising): (assessment items: lab reports, tests and exam).




Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 16:00 - 17:00 Rehua 329
15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 11:00 - 12:00 John Britten 117 HP Seminar Room
15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct
Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 10:00 - 13:00 West 433
22 Jul - 11 Aug
19 Aug - 25 Aug
16 Sep - 29 Sep

Timetable Note

Lecture topics

Whole Plant Physiology (10 lectures by David)
Introduction to the course
Plant cells, tissues and organs
Plant cell division and meristems
The structures and functions of the phloem and xylem including discussion on secondary xylem
Acquisition of water and mineral resources

Acquisition of carbon - photosynthesis (4 lectures by Matthew)
Photosynthesis – introduction + light reactions I
Photosynthesis – carbon assimilation I
Photosynthesis – carbon assimilation II
Photosynthesis – physiological considerations/stress

Plant Growth and Development (10 lectures by Claudia)
Introduction to signals and signal transduction; hormone biology
Seed development, dormancy and germination
Seedling responses to light and gravity; phytochrome and blue light responses
The environmental control of flowering; the ABC model of flower development;
Fruit development
Senescence, including fruit ripening, and abscission
Introduction to biotic interactions

Laboratory Work
Information on the laboratories and the laboratory schedules for the entire course are provided in the laboratory manual. You will be provided with a copy of this manual during week 1 of lectures. You should read the lab manual before coming to the lab classes.
* There are 6 labs in total that are run during TERMS 3 and 4 .
* There is only one laboratory stream.
* Lab class will not run every week.
* Two of the laboratory classes (Lab 5 and 6) that you will conduct require plants to be measured after a 24 h treatment. You will need to come back to the lab for about 1 h on the afternoon of the following day after the lab. The time when the lab will be opened is flexible to suit people’s timetables.

Laboratory Topics (instructor & date):
1. Plant anatomy during primary growth (David, 26.7)
2. Primary and secondary meristems (David, 2.8)
3. Osmosis, turgor and plasmolysis; mineral nutrition (David, 9.8)
4. Photosynthesis (Matthew, 23.8)
5. Auxin and coleoptile elongation (Claudia, 13.9)
6. Seed germination (Claudia, 20.9)

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

David Leung


Claudia Meisrimler

Guest Lecturer

Dr Steve Whisson, Erskine Fellow (James Hutton Institute, UK)


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Final Exam 60%
In course assessments 40%

Passing the Course
In BIOL, we require a satisfactory level of achievement in both the theoretical aspects of the discipline and in practical activities. This means you must attend all class activities and submit all items of assessment unless you have a very good reason not to (e.g. medical reasons). A student must achieve a combined score of at least 40% in both in-course assessment and tests/exams (as defined in the course outline), AND a total score of at least 50%, to be awarded a passing grade (C or better). If you fail to achieve the 40% minimum requirement, a grade of D will be awarded, even if your total score is greater than 50%.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Taiz, Lincoln et al; Plant physiology and development ; Sixth edition; Sinauer Associates, Inc., Publishers, 2015.

Taiz, Lincoln. , Zeiger, Eduardo; Plant physiology ; 5th ed; Sinauer Associates, 2010.

Additional Course Outline Information

Assessment and grading system

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $978.00

International fee $4,988.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 10 people apply to enrol.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL254 Occurrences

  • BIOL254-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024