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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Biology

Undergraduate Course: The Green Planet 2 (BILG08016)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course is an introduction to modern plant biology that emphasises how plant science can be applied to improve crops and other useful plants, and how plants interact with other organisms. It contains a mix of basic plant biology, molecular biology, and whole organism biology. The course also includes an introduction to fungal biology and plant fungi interactions. Topics covered include plant hybridisation and evolution, nitrogen fixation, plant biomass exploitation, plant genetic manipulation, crop evolution and breeding, plant hormones and cell signalling, plant disease resistance. The Green Planet is not an ecology course, but does include significant whole organism content.
Course description Earth is a planet dominated by green plants, which form 99% of the biomass on earth. About half the world¿s population are directly concerned with the production of useful plants. Plant science has undergone a revolution during the last thirty years, with the advent of molecular genetics and genomics technologies, and is now at the forefront of many key research areas, including biodiversity and biofuels. The two major themes of this course are how plants interact with other organisms, and the relevance of modern plant science and technology to a sustainable future for humanity. It contains a mix of basic plant biology, molecular biology, and whole organism biology. Note that the Green Planet is not an ecology or taxonomy course and that it contains significant molecular biology content, however it does also include whole organism content.
Seven sets of lectures, by specialists in the following fields, make up the body of the course: (1) Plant evolution and hybridisation, (2) Plant Anatomy (3) Evolution of crop plants, plant breeding systems and crop improvement (4) Plant-microbe interactions, plant disease and its resistance, (5) Plant genomes and their manipulation, (6) Mechanisms of plant growth and biomass exploitation and (7) Plant responses to their environment and hormone signalling. We also include a series of guest lectures, typically from Plant Scientists working in industry or the applied sector, to illustrate the practical relevance of plant science and possible future careers.

Three hours laboratory work is scheduled per week, and one essay is selected (from a choice of three). There is usually a voluntary field trip to collect edible mushrooms and other fungi one weekend early in the course.

The Green Planet 2 is recommended for the third year courses Plant Physiology 3 and Evolution & Ecology of Plants 3. It is highly recommended for Plant Science Honours, and provides valuable background material for students specialising in ecological subjects, biochemistry, genetics, microbiology, developmental biology or molecular biology.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 33, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 30, Fieldwork Hours 1, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 129 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Exam
Course Essay
Feedback The course essay will receive written feedback.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Increased understanding of biological processes.
  2. Ability to interpret data.
  3. General study skills.
Learning Resources
Prescribed books for basic factual information, on which MCQ will in part be based

***Essential **Strongly recommended *Background reading

***Starr C. & Taggart R. (1998) Plant Structure and Function (Wadsworth), £11.95.
Chapters 29¿32. [This is an excerpt available separately from a larger book (¿Biology: the Unity and Diversity of Life¿) by the same authors, which is in the library]. The complete book is expensive and I would recommend using the materials in the library reserve section rather than buying it. There are 4 copies of the excerpt (titled Plant Structure and Function) in the reserve, and also 3 copies of the complete book (the 11th edition, within which it is chapters 29 - 32). Note that in the latest edition (i.e. the 12th edition of the Unity and diversity of life, also available as the excerpt Plant Structure and Function: v. 4 (Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life) by Cecie Starr (Paperback -3 Sep 2008)) the relevant chapters are 28-31.

Recommended books which cover much of the course and which may prove useful in subsequent plant science courses are (any one of the following):
**Mauseth, J.D. (2014) Botany: an Introduction to Plant Biology, 5th Edition (Jones & Bartlett Publishers, Massachusetts).
**Smith, A.M., Coupland G, Dolan, L. et al (2009). Plant Biology, (Garland Science).
For information on selected topics, I strongly recommend the Teaching Tools in Biology section on the website of the scientific journal The Plant Cell. You can find this at This contains up to date presentations on nutrition, hormone signalling, pathogens and many other relevant topics.

No single book covers every topic in sufficient detail, so you are strongly encouraged also to refer to other books. Some which you may find useful are as follows:
*Buchanan, B.B. et al. (2000) Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Plants. American
Society of Plant Physiologists, Rockville, Maryland. [An excellent, weighty in both senses, 1367-page reference book, widely used by TGP lecturers. Would be a valuable investment if you wish to take plant science into the 3rd and 4th year, or beyond. But expensive.] *Kaufman, P.B. et al. (1989) Plants: Their Biology & Importance (Harper and Row, NY).
*Anderson, J.W. and Beardall, J. (1991) Molecular Activities of Plant Cells (Blackwell, Oxford). [Out of print, but excellent on plant metabolism; in the library]
*Raven, P.H. et al. (1998) Biology of Plants, 6th edition (Freeman/Worth, New York).
*Stern, K.R. (2003) Introductory Plant Biology. McGraw¿Hill, Boston. [An easy-going introduction to plant and fungal biology, especially the non-molecular aspects.] *Galston, A.W. (1994) Life Processes of Plants. Scientific American Library, NY. *Chrispeels M.J. and Sadava, D.E. (1994) Plants, Genes and Agriculture (Jones and Bartlett, Boston).
*Lack, A.J. and Evans, D.E. (2001) Instant Notes in Plant Biology (Bios, Oxford). [A quick run through the whole of plant science, but omitting much that is relevant to TGP2.] *Hames, B.D. and Hooper, N.M. (2000) Instant Notes in Biochemistry, 2nd edition (Bios
Oxford). [A convenient place to look up or revise basics of cell biology and metabolism.] *Glover, B (2007) Understanding flowers and flowering: an integrated approach. (Oxford University Press). £32.00
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Laboratory skills, essay writing, data interpretation
Course organiserDr Alistair McCormick
Course secretaryMrs Louise Hann
Tel: (0131 6)50 7481
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