PLNT*6230 Colloquium in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry

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The following description is for the course offering in Winter 2017 and is subject to change. It is provided for information only. The course outline distributed to the class at the beginning of the semester describes the course content and delivery, and defines the methods and criteria to be used in establishing the final grades for the course.


An open discussion course designed to review and critically analyze contemporary issues in plant physiology and biochemistry. The core emphasis this semester is to critically assess, how photoreactions control plant development.


Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Graduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Winter

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to WebAdvisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

At the successful completion of the course students will:

  1. Improve their critical understanding of the current literature in the area of photoreactions in biology.
  2. Be able to lead structured discussions of major review articles and one or more critical research papers about photosynthesis and photomorphogenesis.
  3. Be able to participate meaningfully in discussions of research papers, in a manner that demonstrates that they understand the assigned literature and can contributes to the learning of other course participants, studying to be experts in plant and crop physiology.
  4. Be able to review the current literature pertaining to photoreactions in plants, and to identify significant research questions and limitations regarding our state of knowledge, including those methodologies that might be employed to develop future research initiatives and help solve the gaps in our science pertaining to light reactions and plant development.
  5. Have experience in presenting complex research concepts in the form of their major paper, and as demonstrate in an oral presentation to the class how they have developed a line of critical thinking.

Lecture Content:

The plan is for one 90-minute class meeting per week during the 12 weeks of semester.  The course is divided into two major sections as indicated below. 

Section 1 – Major Reviews and key research papers – Team Presentations:

•          Cyclic and noncyclic energy transfer

•          Chlorophylls and carotenoids

•          Phytochromes

•          Cryptochromes


Section 2 – Individual, Student- Selected and Student- Lead Discussions

•          TBA

During the first section, which will take place prior to Reading Week, the instructor and the students will examine a small, targeted number of new concepts regarding photoreactions in plants. For this, a heavy emphasis will be placed on recent major review articles regarding energy transduction via processes such as cyclic and non-cyclic electron flow and the pigments.  The class will examine current concepts relating to the four major pigment groups found in plants that seem to control both the energy absorption processes associated with photosynthesis, and those photoreactions thought to be responsible for perception of photons of specific spectral quality that regulate photomorphogensis throughout the life-cycle and control development patterns.

In the second section, students will present and discuss their individual major term assignment.  In the class periods, each student will be responsible for leading a full class assessment of at least one key research paper pertaining to their literature search regarding their special topic that was approved by the instructor.  Specific research papers for class discussion will be selected for their relevance to the creation of the critical written review by each student and the general knowledge that that is value to all students in the class. Both the choice of specific papers for class discussion and the direction and planning of the final term paper will be done in consultation with the instructor. 

The final schedule for first section will be set at the first class meeting on Jan 11th. However, the schedule for specific paper discussions by students following Feb 27th will be posted by the term break.

Labs & Seminars:

There are no labs or seminars scheduled for this course.

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test Contribution to Final Mark (%) Learning Outcomes Assessed

Team’s Review - Article Presentation



Individual, Paper Lead & Presentation






Term paper



Final examination:

There is no final exam scheduled for this course.

Course Resources:

Required Texts:


Recommended Texts:


Lab Manual:


Other Resources: 

Lecture notes and other materials will be distributed to students as appropriate via CourseLink or email.

Field Trips:
Additional Costs:


Course Policies:

Grading Policies:

Marks for the team presentation in section 1 (15%), the individual presentations in section 2 (25%), and the 10% of the grade allocated to participation will be determined as follows: 50% on evaluation by the instructor, and 50% on peer evaluation (rating by other students registered in the course).  The 10% participation grade will be assessed on the last day of classes. This specific grade is an assessment of in-class participation throughout the semester and reflects both the contribution and participation by each student to the learning of others. 

Attendance is considered in allocating this portion of the grade and timely delivery of all presentations to class. Students who miss more than one class, are late, or leave early without a documented medical or compassionate reason should expect to be penalized, particularly with regards to their participation grade.

Final term written assignments are due on April 7th by 5:00pm via email to the instructor.  Penalty for late submission is 10% of the assignment grade for each calendar day or part thereof that assignment is overdue.

Course Policy on Group Work:


Course Policy regarding use of electronic devices and recording of lectures:

Electronic recording of classes is expressly forbidden without consent of the instructor. When recordings are permitted they are solely for the use of the authorized student and may not be reproduced, or transmitted to others, without the express written consent of the instructor.

Other Course Information:

University Policies

Academic Consideration

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