BIOSCI 324 : Plant Pathology and Symbiosis


2022 Semester One (1223) (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

BIOSCI 324 can be taken as part of any BSc Biological Sciences (generic pathway) and is one of the required paper for the Plant Biology pathway. It can also be taken as an alternative paper for the Microbiology and Genetics pathways. Students should take this paper if they are interested in a career in Primary Industry and other relevant industries, Crown Research Institutes, Ministry for Environment, biosecurity and bioprotection, or postgraduate studies.

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
-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 or 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. Explain the key concepts in plant pathology and symbiosis (Capability 1 and 4)
  2. Describe the general properties, disease cycles, and epidemiology of plant pathogens (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  3. Explain 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. Comprehend and critically analyse the influence of factors on disease progress and establishment of mutualistic interactions (Capability 1 and 2)
  6. Compare and contrast morphological versus molecular approaches for the classification of organisms that interact with plants (Capability 1 and 2)
  7. Develop skills in 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 Test
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Final Exam

Students must pass the practical (Lab assessment) and the theory (in-course test and exam) independently to pass the course overall.

Special Requirements

Must complete practical work / compulsory participation.

Must follow standard lab or health & safety requirements including wearing lab coats.

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.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required for labs.
Lectures will be available as recordings.

Attendance on campus is required for the test and exam.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning 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.

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

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.

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.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


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.

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

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.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 09/11/2021 09:44 a.m.