Plant Physiology BIOL-47300  
Fall 2013

INSTRUCTOR:  Peter Melcher
Biology Department Email:
Office: 255 CNS Office hours: M 8:30-103:0 and Tuesday 2:00-4:00 pm or by appointment
Laboratory: 281 CNS Campus phone: 4-3980

Text: Multiple readings from handouts and the primary literature.


Course Description:

We will cover energy flow through plants, plant metabolism, growth and development, hormones, transport and translocation, interactions between plants and other organisms, and plant responses to their environment.  We will learn these topics from lectures, discussions, reading the primary literature and laboratory experiments.


Expected Learning Outcomes:

It is expected that a student completing this class should be able to understand:

1.  plant growth and development, anatomy, structure and its relationship to plant physiological function

2.  plant metabolism

3.  fluid transport systems of plants

4.  hormonal regulation of plant function

5.  plant physiological response to environmental (light, water, gravity and other stresses)

6.  plant interactions with bacteria, fungi and animals


In Laboratory

1. design hypothesis and experiments to test them. Conduct experiments and write up findings in a final report

3. review and discuss the primary literature

4. learn how to critically analyze data

5. learn how to present findings in an oral presentation and written format 


Methods of Assessing Expected Learning Outcomes (performance evaluation)

1.  Lecture, learning outcomes will be assessed by the administration of a few exams and quizzes. Evaluating short essays and from student discussions in lecture.


2.  Laboratory, learning outcomes will be assessed by grading your hypotheses, your written project proposals, evaluating your experimental designs, your results from your experiments and from your presentations and project paper.  Assessment of student learning will also be measured by reviewing student laboratory notebooks and student engagement in the laboratory.   


3. Detailed grade percentages of the various grading in this course will be derived from the following table:


Lecture (75%)


In class quizzes/exercises


Take home quizzes/exercises


Exam I


Exam II




Laboratory (25%)


Project proposal


Project presentation


Project paper


Lab participation



Academic Honesty:

All the work in this class must be your own, unless stated otherwise.  Confirmed instances of academic misconduct will result in a zero for a test or assignment and referral to the school judiciary system.  Please refer to the Student Handbook for a detailed description of the policies regarding student academic conduct.



Lectures:  You are expected to attend all lectures and to arrive to class on time. There is a significant correlation between exam performance and lecture attendance.  Therefore, you should make every effort to attend all lectures.


Exams: You must take exams on scheduled exam dates.  If you are participating in a college-sponsored event (athletics, performance, etc.) that conflicts with a scheduled exam, you must provide a written excuse from a faculty member (coach, director, etc.) at least one week prior to the exam.  If you cannot make it to an exam (i.e. illness), you need to contact me before the exam begins (by phone 274-3980, leave a message).  Email alone is insufficient; you need to call and leave a message with a number to contact you if I am not available.  Failure to do so will result in a zero for that exam.    


Laboratory:  Laboratory attendance is mandatory.  



"In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Students must register with Student Disability Services and provide appropriate documentation to Ithaca College before any academic adjustment will be provided."



Course Schedule:  (PRP = Peer Review Paper; HO = Handout

Date (week)



Aug 29 (Th)

Introduction to the course and intro to plants.

PRP 1 (basics of water transport)

Sept 3 (T)

Plant Cell

water and plant cells (osmosis and diffusion)



Sept 5 (Th)

Water, osmotic and solute potential


Sept 10 (T)

Long-distance transport - Xylem



Sep 12 (Th)

                                                         Discuss PRP 1


Sept 17 (T) & 19 (Th)

Control of water transport (roots, leaves and xylem)

Physiology of root and stem pressure (Solute loading and Aquaporins)

PRP II (Embolism refilling)


Sept 24 (T) & 26 (Th)

Long-distance transport – Phloem


Oct 1 (T)

Embolism formation and removal



Oct 3 (Th)

                                                        Discuss PRP II


Oct 8 (T)

photosynthesis I (light reactions)



Oct 10 (Th)

photosynthesis II (Carbon reactions)


Oct 15 (T)

No Class. Take home reader on Photo Oxidation


Oct 17 (Th)  

Fall Break


Oct 22 (T)

A little on Fluorescence and review for Exam 1



Oct 24 (Th)



Oct 29  (T)


Photosynthesis: Ecological and Physiological Considerations

PRP III (Silverswords)

Oct 31 (Th)


Photosynthesis: Ecological and Physiological Considerations


Nov 5 (T)

Thermal responses and adaptations to high elevations


Nov 7 (Th)

                                                        Discuss PRP III


Nov 12 (T)

Respiration I Glycolysis

PRP IV (Rayko’s paper)

Nov 14 (Th)

Respiration II Citric Acid Cycle, ETC and Chemiosmosis


Nov 19 (T)

growth and development: cell walls (structure, biogenesis and expansion) 


Nov 21

Secondary metabolism and plant defenses


Nov 23 – Dec 1



Dec 3 (T)

                                                       Discuss PRP IV



Dec 5 (TH)

phytochromes (light control of plant development)



Dec 10 (T)



Dec 12 (TH)

Genetic engineering of plants



Dec 20th




Laboratory Schedule: THURSDAYS   1pm – 3:50pm CNS 202



Stuff to be prepared for

Aug 29


Discuss Research Topics

Sow plants for research


Sept 5

Plant Anatomy


Sept 12

Plant Hydraulics I

Independent research questions and hypotheses due

Sept 19

Plant Hydraulics II


Sept 26

Photosynthesis I

Sow seeds for independent research projects if needed etc.

Independent research proposal due.

Oct 3

Photosynthesis II


Oct 10

Photosynthesis III


Oct 17

Fall Break


Oct 24

Begin Independent Research Projects


Oct 31

Independent Research


Nov 7

Independent Research


Nov 14

Independent Research


Nov 21

Independent Research


Nov 28

Thanksgiving Break


Dec 5

Independent Research


Dec 12

Presentation of Research Projects

Final Draft of Research Papers Due



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Page maintained and updated by Peter Melcher and Nancy Pierce.
Last modified: 9/2013