BIOSCI 340 : Plant Cell Biology and Biotechnology


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Explores the cellular basis of how plants develop, function and respond to the environment and how this knowledge is applied to biotechnology. Topics include: methods in plant cell biology, control of gene expression, control of cell shape, intracellular transport and targeting, plant growth hormones and signaling, controlled flowering, structures and biosynthesis of plant cell walls and horticultural biotechnology.

Course Overview

This course focuses on selected topics in Plant Biotechnology and Plant Molecular Science. The lectures are presented by staff who are actively researching these areas from the University (School of Biological Sciences) and from Plant and Food Research (a nearby Crown Research Institute). The course is well suited  for students interested in the modern methodology used to understand key plant development processes and  how plants can be modified to generate crops with desired traits for use in agriculture and horticulture.

This course is good preparation for anyone wanting to do postgraduate study in Biotechnology. New Zealand economy is largely based on primary industries and the skills developed in this course are particularly useful for those wishing to have a career linked to this sector (i.e Crown Research Institutes, Ministry of Primary Industry, Environmental Protection Agency, Plant Biotechnology companies, etc...).

The information presented comes from application of a range of approaches allowing the study of genomes and gene function: plant molecular biology, genetics, genomics, phylogenetics, cell biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and physiology.

A remote version of the course is available for students based overseas.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 201 or 202 or 205

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Explain how biotechnology has been used to study the complex processes that occur in plants. (Capability 1)
  2. Describe the different key methodologies currently available in crop breeding. (Capability 1)
  3. Give examples of current commercial crops generated using these methods. (Capability 1)
  4. Choose the appropriate strategy/methodology to study gene function and improve plants for a specific trait. (Capability 2 and 3)
  5. Conduct experiments in plant molecular science and critically analyse the results. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  6. Communicate findings through scientific report and essay writing. (Capability 2 and 4)
  7. Identify the key findings in a scientific paper and clearly explain and discuss them. (Capability 2 and 4)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories 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
The practical component (Laboratories) and Theory component (Test and Final Exam) must be passed separately.


For more information and to find contact details for the current BIOSCI 340 Tuākana coordinator, please see

Key Topics

Key topics covered in BIOSC340 include engineering of plant colour, health components, plant hormones and signalling, control of fruit ripening, post-harvest quality and regulation of flowering time.

Learning Resources

Textbook: Plant physiology and development (2015) Taiz, L., Zeiger, E., Møller, I. M., & Murphy, A. S.

Special Requirements

Attendance at all five laboratories is compulsory. Students who are approved to take this course remotely (only for overseas students) will have alternative arrangements made (contact the course coordinator for access to the remote version).

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 31 hours of lectures, 15 hours of labs, 5 hours of tutorials, 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 17/07/2020 03:49 p.m.