MBG*4300 Plant Molecular Genetics

course node page

This course is not offered in the Fall 2019 semester. The following description is for the course offering in Fall 2014 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.

This course studies the molecular genetics of plants. The topics include: plant genome diversity and synteny; Arabidopsis thaliana genome, hormonal, environmental and developmental regulation of gene expression; chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes; and gene expression and silencing in transgenics. The course will be delivered using a lecture and paper discussion format. Students will learn and use a variety of computer techniques to search and analyze plant genome databases.


Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Fall

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to Web Advisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this course, you should be able to:
  1. Gain basic background knowledge literacy in plant molecular genetics sufficient for a post-graduate career in molecular genetics or plant molecular genetics
  2. Gain basic competency in online databases used by experimental plant molecular geneticists including genomics, metabolomics, proteomics and molecular biology databases
  3. Learn to generate focused questions, generate hypotheses and design a series of logical experiments to test the hypotheses, as training for writing post-graduate scholarship proposals in molecular genetics
  4. Gain competency in verbally presenting and defending experimental proposals, as training for a career in post-graduate research in the real world including presentations at scientific conferences
  5. Critically evaluate experimental proposals in plant molecular genetics, as training for anonymous scientific peer review in the real world
  6. Learn skills that enable selecting a long-term career

Lecture Content:

Lecture topics include:
  • Introduction to Plants
  • Arabidopsis/Molecular Methods I
  • Molecular Methods II
  • Genetics Methods
  • Choosing a Career
  • How to Map and Isolate a Gene
  • Arabidopsis Genome
  • Genomics Tutorial
  • Proteomics Tutorial
  • Metabolomics Tutorial
  • Online Molecular and Science Software Tools
Labs & Seminars:

Course Assignments and Tests:

Discussion Brainstorm for First Cycle 1%
5 minutes oral report of great unsolved problem nomination for group vote 4%
Oral report of grant proposal background info; feedback on experimental design 6%
Oral defence with Methodology handout 13%
Discussion for next cycle 1%
5 minutes oral report of great unsolved problem nomination for group vote 4%
Oral report of grant proposal background info; feedback on experimental design 6%
Oral defence with Methodology handout; Discussion for next cycle 13%
5 minutes oral report of great unsolved problem nomination for group vote 4%
Oral report of grant proposal background info; feedback on experimental design 6%
Oral defence with Methodology handout 12%
2 Page written proposal 20%
Quizzes 10%


Final examination:

There is no final exam for this course.

Course Resources:

Required Texts
Recommended Texts
The course relies on the primary literature and review papers. Students are encouraged to read articles in high quality journals including but not limited to:
  • Relevant Primary Journals: Nature Plants, Plant Cell, Plant Physiology, Frontiers in Plant Science, BMC Plant Biology, etc.
  • Relevant Review Journals: Annual Review of Plant Biology, Trends in Plant Science, Current Opinion in Plant Biology
  • General Journals: Science, Nature, Cell. Genes and Development. Development, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS), Nature Genetics, Nature Reviews Genetics, PLoS journals, Developmental Cell, Genetics, Genome Biology, etc.
Other Resources: Online plant genomics databases:

Course Policies:

Late Policy
No oral presentations are accepted late, nor can missed in-class tests be re-written, except without a medical note or extreme circumstance. For late written assignments, there will be a 20% mark deduction per day, except when a medical note or other extreme circumstance is presented
Time and place for submission
All written and oral submissions are due in class during the assigned tutorial section.
Grading system
Course Policy on Group Work
There is no group work in this course, though each tutorial group is encouraged to provide experimental suggestions and critical evaluation following in-class oral presentations.
Recording of Materials
Presentations which are made in relation to course work—including lectures—cannot be recorded or copied without the written permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a classmate or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.

Other Course Information:

University Policies

Academic Consideration

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the academic calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration:

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community, faculty, staff, and students  to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring.

University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection. Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community's shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact the Student Accessibility Services (SAS), formerly Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD), as soon as possible.

For more information, contact CSD at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email sas@uoguelph.ca or visit the Student Accessibility Services website: http://www.uoguelph.ca/csd/.

Course Evaluation Information

Your ratings and comments are important.  Course evaluation data are used to assess and enhance the quality of teaching and student learning at the University of Guelph.  Student course ratings and comments are used as an important component in the Faculty Tenure & Promotion process, and as valuable feedback to help instructors improve their teaching effectiveness and to improve the delivery of the course.

Your responses will not affect your grade.  Course evaluation data are distributed to individual instructors after final grades have been submitted to the Registrar, following the completion of each academic semester.

Please be honest, respectful, constructive and thorough.  Instructors and review committees place great value on student course ratings and read all comments provided in course evaluations. It is helpful to provide comments on the strengths of the course, in addition to the areas for improvement.  Please refrain from personal comments unless they relate to teaching and learning.

Click here for the University of Guelph Course Evaluation System