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Unit information: Plant Environmental Adaptation in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Plant Environmental Adaptation
Unit code BIOL30005
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Franklin
Open unit status Not open

None, but we strongly advise that students should previously have studied BIOL20013 Green Planet. If you have not taken this unit, consult with the Unit Director for suggested background reading.



School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


Aims: To enhance understanding of how plants perceive, respond and adapt to the abiotic environment.

Description: Plant physiological adaptations to extreme environments (eg. arctic, desert) will be studied alongside cell signalling pathways controlling plant responses to a range of transient abiotic stresses. Topics will include plant responses to shade, heat, freezing, drought, flooding and CO2, in addition to alternative forms of photosynthesis (eg. C4, CAM). The integration of environmental information with the circadian clock to provide day length measurement and seasonal prediction will also be explored. In addition to discussing cutting edge developments in plant environmental signalling, the course will examine agricultural and horticultural approaches to mitigate the adverse effects of abiotic environmental stress on crop productivity and food security.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will gain an understanding of how plants perceive and respond to a variety of environmental signals at the physiological and molecular levels (light, temperature, water, CO2). They will additionally gain understanding of structural and photosynthetic adaptations to extreme environments, the plant circadian clock and daylength/seasonal detection. At the end of the course, students should be able to demonstrate understanding of how scientific advances in this area are currently being exploited in agricultural/horticultural systems to mitigate the adverse effects of abiotic stress on crop production.

Teaching details

3 x 1 hour weekly lectures. Self-directed learning week (week 18). Students are expected to spend this time on directed reading of primary literature, the content of which is relevant to the final exam. A revision lecture will take place during or after week 18.

Assessment Details

End of session exam (100%)

Reading and References

Smith et al. (2010) Plant Biology, Garland Science is a good basic text. The majority of material in this course will, however, come from recent research papers. Students will receive a list of these and any relevant review articles at the start of this teaching unit.