BIOSCI 752 : Plant Genomics and Biotechnology


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

How genomics and gene transfer technologies could be used to achieve improved plant growth and to develop food with new traits. Includes: plant genomics methods, engineering fruit colour, control of fruit ripening and texture, biotechnology project design. A sound understanding of BIOSCI 354 or 340 or 326 or equivalent is assumed.

Course Overview

This paper explores how transcriptome analyses and gene transfer/editing technologies could be used to study plant metabolism, growth and development.  Ultimately the aim is to develop strategies to improve plant growth but also develop food with new traits.

During the course, students will become familiar with the current literature and critical issues in selected topics in plant genomics and biotechnology. Students will learn how to read papers carefully and critique them properly, including assessing the experimental methods used, determining the key experimental findings of the paper, assessing the contribution the paper makes to the field and defining the experiments that should be done next. The course involves a mix of lectures, group and class discussions as well as individual work.

Students will gain experience in designing a strategy to develop a successful crop using a transgenic approach and write it up as a proposal and gain experience in designing and giving seminars to a scientific audience.

The course is well suited for students with a background in molecular biology, genetics, biotechnology and/or plant molecular biology. Suggested papers for the University of Auckland as background could include BIOSCI 326 (Plant Biotechnology for Crop and Health) BIOSCI 351 Molecular Genetics. Students taking this paper will be well prepared to pursue a career in private biotechnology companies, crown research institutes, primary industry sector or university research groups.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe and discuss plant genetic engineering methodologies (Capability 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7)
  2. Describe and discuss current strategies used in plant functional genomics (Capability 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  3. Design and write a proposal to develop plants with new traits, using genetic engineering (Capability 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)
  4. Critically evaluate scientific papers for methodology and analysis in current biotechnological techniques (Capability 3, 4 and 7)
  5. Select relevant scientific papers for a specific topic. (Capability 3 and 4)
  6. Present in a clear and concise manner, both orally and as a written summary, the main findings of a scientific paper and propose future work. (Capability 3, 4, 6 and 7)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Plant Biotechnology Proposal 30% Group & Individual Coursework
Quizzes 10% Individual Coursework
Seminar or paper summary 20% Individual Coursework
Exam 35% Individual Examination
Discussions 5% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Plant Biotechnology Proposal
Seminar or paper summary


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Key Topics

The key topics of this course will cover important research areas in Plant Science including:
(i) Transgenic plants projects, in which students propose a strategy to improve an important plant trait
(ii) Genomics and transcriptomics technologies and their use in plants
(iii) Secondary metabolism in plants and implications for human and animal health.
(iv) Application of plant biotechnology tools and genetics to investigate the basis of important processes affecting crop yield and productivity. 

Special Requirements

Compulsory attendance to Lectures and group discussions.

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 per week: 2 hours of lectures or  tutorial/discussion, 2 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 6 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including lectures/seminars/discussions to complete the course.
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.

No text book required.

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.

Staff welcome feedback on the course throughout the semester, including the SET evaluations. Please contact your course coordinator or student representative at any time with your feedback.

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 for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, 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.

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 31/10/2023 10:51 a.m.