551-0311-00L  Molecular Life of Plants

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersS. C. Zeeman, K. Bomblies, O. Voinnet
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


551-0311-00 VMolecular Life of Plants4 hrs
Mon07:45-09:30HCI J 4 »
Tue10:15-12:00ETZ E 8 »
S. C. Zeeman, K. Bomblies, O. Voinnet

Catalogue data

AbstractThe advanced course introduces students to plants through a concept-based discussion of developmental processes that integrates physiology and biochemistry with genetics, molecular biology, and cell biology. The course follows the life of the plant, starting with the seed, progressing through germination to the seedling and mature plant, and ending with reproduction and senescence.
ObjectiveThe new course "Molecular Life of Plants" reflects the rapid advcances that are occurring in the field of experimental plant biology as well as the changing interests of students being trained in this discipline. Contemporary plant biology courses emphasize a traditional approach to experimental plant biology by discussing discrete topics that are removed from the context of the plant life cycle. The course will take an integrative approach that focuses on developmental concepts. Whereas traditional plant physiology courses were based on research carried out on intact plants or plant organs and were often based on phenomenological observations, current research in plant biology emphasizes work at the cellular, subcellular and molecular levels.

The goal of "Molecular Life of Plants" is to train students in integrative approaches to understand the function of plants in a developmental context. While the course focuses on plants, the training integrative approaches will also be useful for other organisms.
ContentThe course "Molecular Life of Plants" will cover the following topics:

Seed structure and physiology, their dormancy and germination.
Seedling establishment and early development.
Structure and Function of Meristems, including stem cells.
Plant organ development (leaves, roots, flowers etc.).
Plant reproduction.
The plant vasculature for long-distance transport and other specialized tissues.
Sensing and responding to the abiotic environment
Plant-microbe interactions; beneficial friends or pathogenic foes?
Polyploidy; the benefits, problems and solutions to of multiple genomes.
Photosynthesis and carbon partitioning.
Photorespiration and the evolution of C4 metabolism.
Starch biosynthesis and degradation.
Chloroplast development and chlorophyll biosynthesis.
Senescence mechanisms in plants.
General principles of RNA silencing
MicroRNAs: discovery, general principle and modes of action at the cellular and system levels.
Chromatin-based RNA silencing.
Antiviral RNA silencing.
RNA silencing & defense against non-viral pathogens.
RNA silencing movement and amplification.
Subject-specific CompetenciesConcepts and Theoriesassessed
Techniques and Technologiesassessed
Method-specific CompetenciesAnalytical Competenciesfostered
Media and Digital Technologiesfostered
Social CompetenciesCommunicationfostered
Cooperation and Teamworkfostered
Personal CompetenciesCreative Thinkingfostered
Critical Thinkingfostered
Self-direction and Self-management fostered

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits6 credits
ExaminersS. C. Zeeman, K. Bomblies, O. Voinnet
Typesession examination
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionThe performance assessment is offered every session. Repetition possible without re-enrolling for the course unit.
Mode of examinationwritten 150 minutes
Additional information on mode of examinationSprache der Leistungskontrolle ist Deutsch oder Englisch
Written aidsKeine.
This information can be updated until the beginning of the semester; information on the examination timetable is binding.

Learning materials

Moodle courseMoodle-Kurs / Moodle course
Only public learning materials are listed.


No information on groups available.


There are no additional restrictions for the registration.

Offered in

Biology BachelorConcept CoursesWInformation
Biology MasterCompulsory Concept CoursesOInformation
Biology MasterElective Concept CoursesWInformation