BIOSCI 324 : Plant Pathology and Symbiosis


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Microorganisms and pests form symbioses with plants that are critically importance for horticulture and agriculture. This course examines the biology of plant pathogens, pests, and symbionts. It focuses on plant-microbe interactions at the cellular and molecular level, the epidemiology and control of plant diseases, and the mechanisms through which these interactions are mediated.

Course Overview

Specific focuses are:
-Basic Principles of Plant Pathology and Abiotic Disease and Pathogenic Bacteria - Basic Properties, Control and Symptoms
-Viruses and Viroids - structure, replication, movement, host response, detection, transmission, mechanisms and control.
-Introduction to Fungi and major groups: Mycorrhizae, Endophytes, Lichens
Disease life cycles, Fungal identification and taxonomy and advanced concepts in fungal phylogenetic relationships and pathogen outbreaks
-Introduction to major groups of plant/crop pests, identification, movement, host response, detection, transmission, mechanisms and control.
-Epidemiology and Control - Disease Modelling and Forecasting, Digital Technologies for Plant Pathology, control of plant pathogens and weeds using biocontrol approaches
-Necrotropic plant pathogens, biotrophic plant pathogens, molecular basis for pathogen specificity, The plant defence response, plant disease resistance genes and the 'Guard' hypothesis and evolution of plant pathogens
-Plant Mutualistic Interactions: plant- mycorrhizae symbiosis, root nodule symbiosis and the mechanisms of symbiotic interactions

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 204, 205 Restriction: BIOSCI 321

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key concepts in plant pathology and symbiosis (Capability 1 and 4)
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the general properties, disease cycles, and epidemiology of plant pathogens (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles (including social and cultural) underlying the control of plant diseases (Capability 1, 2, 4 and 6)
  4. Recognise and critically assess common symptoms of viral, bacterial and fungal diseases, and of herbivory (Capability 1 and 2)
  5. Demonstrate an ability to comprehend and critically analyse the influence of factors on disease progress and establishment of mutualistic interactions (Capability 1 and 2)
  6. Explain and contrast morphological versus molecular approaches for the classification of organisms that interact with plants (Capability 1 and 2)
  7. Use techniques for the isolation, culture, identification, and study of plant pathogens and symbionts (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Practical 30% Individual Coursework
Test 30% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Final Exam

Learning Resources

Agrios, GN. Plant Pathology (5th Ed.), 2005.

Special Requirements

Must complete practical work / compulsory participation.

Must follow standard lab or health & safety requirements.

Regarding the prerequisite. Please nite it is either BIOSCI 204 or 205.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 30 hours of lectures, a 2 hour tutorial, 40 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 40 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 12/02/2020 08:12 p.m.