“Plant scientists are tackling many of the most important challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century, including climate change, food security, and fossil fuel replacement. Making the best possible progress will require exceptional people. We need to radically change our culture so that ‘plant scientist’ (or, if we can rehabilitate the term, ‘botanist’) can join ‘doctor’, ‘vet’ and ‘lawyer’ in the list of of professions to which our most capable young people aspire.” — CS Grierson et al. 2011. “One hundred important questions facing plant science research. New Phytologist 192, 6-12.
|This course focuses on plant physiology from the biochemical and molecular processes to whole-plant function. Students will gain an understanding and appreciation of plant function, including the dynamic processes of growth, development and reproduction, and should be able to apply the knowledge gained to evolutionary, ecological and plant production problems.
Plant Physiology Laboratory
|Students become scientists by applying physiological techniques to answer questions on plant function. Concepts and techniques covered include quantifying and interpreting enzymatic reactions, pigment function, water and sugar transport, responses to hormones, whole plant growth and allocation, responses to light and nutrients, and experimental design.
World Vegetation Ecology and Ecophysiology
|This course covers the diversity of physiological and ecological adaptations in the biomes of the world, to explain the distribution and dynamics of world vegetation types. We focus on processes across scales from cells to ecosystem to the globe, including the generation of world climates, fundamental concepts of ecology and evolution, the determination of the world’s major vegetation zones and the key plants found there, and the ways they are specialized to typical conditions and the threats they face in their natural setting. Finally we explore patterns in plant diversity at global scale and impacts of climate change and what can be done to preserve this diversity.
Plant Hydraulic Design– Physics, Evolution, Physiology, Ecology
|This seminar course builds an integrated understanding of the adaptation and the mechanisms of plant water uptake and transport, and their enormous implications. We pursue readings, presentations and discussion to allow participation and understanding by newcomers to the topic. We take a multi-threaded approach focusing on biophysics, anatomy, physiology, evolution and ecology of water relations, to develop simultaneous clarity on these exciting topics. Students will develop new comprehension of the current literature, an increased ability to rapidly assimilate new information on plant function, comfort in presenting and instructing on advanced material and practice in asking novel questions at the forefront of plant physiology.
Ecological, Developmental and Evolutionary Plant Anatomy
|Researchers across a wide range of fields in ecology, evolution and environmental biology are increasingly recognizing the role of plant anatomy in determining ecological and evolutionary processes at a wide range of scales. Plant anatomy has impacts on physiology of organs, whole plants and landscapes; niche differences among species; plant-animal interactions; vegetation-level fluxes; and even the lineages of plants and the types of ecosystems that dominate in the present, past and future. This field is currently undergoing a renaissance due to new concepts and techniques, emerging as one of the most exciting areas of plant science and ecology. In this seminar course, we will read and discuss classical and modern literature to survey core knowledge and cutting edge understanding. We will develop practical skills in anatomy, analyses and/or modeling to provide basic training in collecting and interpreting data. Additionally, given the wealth of opportunities in this expanding field, we will develop collaborative projects toward new discoveries and research products (papers or educational media).
mechanisms, genetics, development, diversity,
and impacts on communities and biosphere, past and present
|For over 200 years, there has been a growing fascination with stomata– the millions of pores (or valves) on the plant surface that control CO2 uptake and water loss. Stomata have been referred to as the “mouths” and “brains” of the plant, and indeed their opening and closing influences not only the growth of individual plants but the productivity of ecosystems.
This graduate seminar course will survey fundamentals and recent breakthroughs in understanding the intricacy of stomatal control, the sophistication of their sensing and decision-making, their genetics and development, their diversity across the plant kingdom, and their influence on plant and ecosystem productivity and on the earth-climate system throughout deep time.