551-0360-00L  Applied Plant Biotechnology

SemesterSpring Semester 2019
LecturersW. Gruissem
Periodicityyearly recurring course
CourseDoes not take place this semester.
Language of instructionEnglish
CommentNumber of participants limited to 8.

The enrolment is done by the D-BIOL study administration.


AbstractThe APB covers multidisciplinary aspects of green biotechnology. Students will acquire knowledge about transgenic crops in the world, processes to generate transgenic plants as well as strategies to engineer plants resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses. Development of new tools for plant biotechnology will be performed in the lab. Social aspects of green biotechnology will also be presented.
ObjectiveThe complete field of Plant Biotechnology shall be introduced in order to provide an overview over the diversity of this discipline, its connections with other disciplines, and its historical context. A major focus of the block course will be the potential of genetic modification as a tool for gene function in basic science as well as for agronomic and/or commercial application dealing with benefit and risk. Basic methods will be handled in practical experiments, lectures will provide the theoretical background including issues beyond the scientific scene like patent issues, ethical considerations, or legal regulation. The goal of this teaching unit is to educate interested students such that they overlook the discipline, are able to understand the basic methodical and intellectual approaches, understand and critically interpret the literature on this field and are able to further follow the development in this field after finishing their studies. Finally, the students should learn to develop own research projects and follow them including communication of their work to the public or the media.
ContentThe following theoretical topics will be presented:

- Plant tissue culture (N. benthamiana, cereals, cassava, cell cultures, somatic embryogenesis, regeneration)
- Methods for genetic transformation (Agrobacterium) and Molecular analysis of genetically modified (GM) plants (copy number, inheritance of transgenes etc)
- Selection systems (antibiotic and herbicide resistance, phosphor-mannose isomerase, marker-free systems, visible markers)
- Inducible promoters, tissue specific promoters
- Silencing and its application in plant biotechnology
- Biotechnological tools for crop improvement (the case of cassava and rice)
- Application potential (herbicide tolerance, pest and pathogen resistance, biofuel etc.)
- Public interest (ethical issues, patenting of GM-plants, GM food, public outreach).

Lectures will have a special focus on the contribution of biotechnology to the improvement of tropical crops such as cassava and rice. A visit to the greenhouse facilities is also planned to give the opportunity to discuss the different project performed at the ETH Plant Biotechnology Lab.

For the practical part of the blockcourse, students will perform their own research project. It will aim at the development of new promoters for green biotechnology. Students will clone the specific promoters from different plant species and subsequently produce transgenic plant cells using the methods presented during the course. Project to identify new plant resistance genes from genetically diverse set of rice lines will also be carried out as part of the practicals.
Lecture notesScripts will be distributed in the course for the practical parts and/or on Moodle platform.
LiteratureLiterature will be provided in the course
Prerequisites / NoticeLectures of APB are given in English.