BIOSCI 754 : Plant Genomes and Gene Expression


2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The analysis of plant genomes and regulation of gene expression in plant biology. Includes: inferences from whole plant genome sequences, genetic control of nitrogen fixation, uptake and use, flowering time, hormone signalling pathways, sugar metabolism and its regulation. A sound understanding of BIOSCI 354 or 340 or 326 or equivalent is assumed.

Course Overview

This paper explores recent advances in plant genomes and gene expression with distinct examples to illustrate how cellular processes work at the molecular level and highlight features of experimental design and data analysis. Plants, unlike animals, are sessile (sitting) organisms that evolved complex cellular and molecular mechanisms (gene expression and hormones) to survive and adapt to changing environments. We will discuss the physiological and molecular processes of plant development including flowering time, branching, nitrogen fixation and uptake, and carbon metabolism. We will also examine the structure, diversity and function of plant genomes to understand mechanism controlling each process and how different plant species respond to environmental stimuli. The final aim of this course is to explore how genome diversity and conservation between plant species can be used to understand evolutionary processes and for practical applications in cultivated plant species (crops). For example, we will discuss how genomic technologies could help addressing questions in sustainable agriculture and climate change and maximising crop yield and productivity. Students interested in plant science, genetics and/or biotechnology should take this course, which will prepare them for projects in Crown Research Institutes such as Plant and Food Research, AgResearch or Scion or for further Postgraduate study doing an Honours or MSc thesis research project. The courses BioSci351 or BioSci355 or BioSci340 or equivalent are recommended preparation for this course.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

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

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe the molecular pathways that plant development and plant response to the environment (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Explain the findings of journal articles in student seminars (Capability 4 and 5)
  3. Identify gaps in our knowledge of selected plant processes (Capability 1, 2 and 6)
  4. Interpret data sets (Capability 3 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Quizzes 20% Individual Coursework
Seminar presentation or paper summary 20% Individual Coursework
Topic Discussion and/or lightning presentation 15% Individual Coursework
Essay 15% Individual Coursework
Final exam 30% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Seminar presentation or paper summary
Topic Discussion and/or lightning presentation
Final exam

Special Requirements

Attendance and punctuality required at all sessions; a roll will be signed.

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 8 hours of lectures, 6 hours discussion, 6 hours of presentations, 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

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.

A remote version of the course can be made available to students located overseas because of border restrictions, or those with an exemption to study remotely.

Learning Resources

Presentations and selected papers

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.

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.

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.


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 your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Level 1: Delivered normally as specified in delivery mode

Level 2: You will not be required to attend in person. All teaching and assessment will have a remote option. The following activities will also have an on campus / in person option: [Lectures, labs, tutorials, office hours, field trips, etc.]

Level 3 / 4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely

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 07/01/2021 10:50 p.m.