Plant Science and Biotechnology
Prerequisite: Molecular and Cell Biology I BIOL-UA 21
Plant biology is relevant to any scientist whose work requires an understanding of food security, climate change, genetic engineering, and drug discovery. This course focuses on the organismal and molecular biology of plants with an emphasis on subjects that have a direct impact on imminent societal challenges. For example, the extension of plant-microbe symbioses is the subject of a multi-million dollar Gates Foundation project to address climate change by lowering energy intensive nitrogen inputs. Other efforts seek the introduction of C4 photosynthesis to new crops in order to stabilize food production in the hot, dry climates that lie ahead. Plant secondary compounds and now plant-based antibody production are important tools in modern medicine. The course does not aim to debate these often-controversial approaches but rather to provide a scientific basis to understand them. The material will incorporate and reinforce concepts in genetics and molecular biology. The course will also emphasize development of rigorous scientific communication skills needed for careers in research and medicine rather than in-class testing. Writing assignments will include a personal essay of scientific interests and a scientific summary of primary research that will be developed into a short research proposal and final presentation.