Selected Readings in Molecular Biology

Graduate course BIOL6593


The aim of this graduate course is to gain a comprehensive view on modern developments in the study of physiological processes in plants at the molecular level and how these processes are influenced by environmental factors. The course will also provide basic information about the methods of plant molecular biology.

Course outline

Molecular biology of photosynthesis

The capture of light energy and its conversion into organic compounds
Photosynthetic electron transport and its components
Photophosphorylation and its molecular mechanisms
Rubisco, its molecular structure and function
The Calvin-Benson cycle and its regulation
Biochemical and molecular basis of photorespiration
CO2 concentrating mechanisms in algae and role of carbonic anhydrase
Photosynthetic efficiency: C3, C4 and CAM plants
Respiration: molecular mechanisms and function
Role of mitochondria in the light
Components of the mitochondrial electron transport chain
Molecular biology of plant respiration
Photoinhibition and its mechanisms
Photosynthetic responses to carbon dioxide: the greenhouse effect

Molecular aspects of mineral nutrition

Properties of water: water, osmotic and pressure potentials
Soil-plant-air continuum, transpiration
Essential nutrients for plant growth
Molecular mechanisms of ion uptake
Nitrogen fixation and its environmental regulation
Molecular structure and mechanism of nitrogenase
Phosphorus assimilation and response to fertilizers
Movements of nutrients and assimilates through plants
Molecular biology of nitrate reduction
Molecular mechanisms of ammonium assimilation
Membrane transport processes
Source-sink relationships

Seed molecular biology

Seed structure and composition
Physiology and biochemistry of seed dormancy
Bioenergetics and metabolism of germinating seeds
Degradation and utilization of fat, protein and starch reserves
Embryogenesis and seed development

Plant development and phytohormones

Cell walls: structure and biogenesis
Molecular mechanism of stomatal movements
Phytochrome and light control of plant development
Auxins, Gibberellins, Cytokinins, Ethylene, Abscisic acid
Other types of hormones: brassinosteroids, jasmonic acid, salicylic acid
Molecular biology of flowering

Stress physiology and molecular biology

Water deficit and drought resistance
Heat, chilling and salinity stresses
Flooding and hypoxic stress
Metabolic flexibility and adaptation to stress

Methods of plant molecular biology

DNA and RNA extraction
Extraction of phenolics and other biochemical compounds
Methods in enzymology
Methods of molecular genetics
Basic principles of proteomics and metabolomics

Recommended textbook: L. Taiz, E. Zeiger, I.M. Møller, A. Murphy, Fundamentals of Plant Physiology, Sinauer, 2018 or L. Taiz, E. Zeiger, I.M. Møller, A. Murphy, Plant Physiology and Development, Sixth (or earlier) Edition. Sinauer, 2014 (available at the bookstore)
Online chapters:

Supplementary sources:
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology of Plants, edited by B. Buchanan, W. Gruissem, R.L. Jones. John Wiley & Sons, 2000
H.W. Heldt, Plant Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. Oxford, 1998
W.G. Hopkins and N.P.A. Huner, Introduction to Plant Physiology, Fourth Edition. John Wiley & Sons, 2009


Student presentations – 50%
Term paper – 30%
Participation – 20%


Andrei Igamberdiev

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000