PBIO*4750 Genetic Engineering of Plants

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The following description is for the course offering in Winter 2023 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 provides an examination and discussion of the principles, protocols and applications of molecular biology and transformation technology to the genetic improvements of plants.

Pre-Requisites:  (AGR*2470 or BOT*2100), (MBG*2040 or MBG*2400)


Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Winter

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to WebAdvisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

The aim of this course is for the students to develop a critical appreciation of plant genetic engineering. This obviously involves understanding the “mechanics” of biotechnology, but it goes further as we want to explore the broader impacts of this approach, be they agronomical, environmental or societal. We will therefore look at the “how”, “what”, and “why” of crop plant transformation and the plant biotech industry. This will be done by getting an historical appreciation for biotechnology as well as examining current and future trends.

After successfully completing the course students will:

  1. Critically determine the importance of the discoveries that have lead to the development of the plant biotechnology industry, demonstrated by successful completion of assignments and group presentation
  2. Understand the reasons behind different plant transformation techniques, demonstrated by successful completion of assignments
  3. Ascertain what are the motivations behind the biotech industry, demonstrated by successful completion of assignments and group presentation
  4. Critically evaluate the impact biotech plants have had on agriculture, environment and society, demonstrated by successful completion of assignments, individual assay and group presentation
  5. Have improved presentation skills, demonstrated by successful completion of group presentation.

Lecture Content:

Topics to be covered in lectures include:
  • Review of basic plant genetics
  • Genetic engineering and biotechnologies
  • Plants transformation techniques
  • History of genetically engineered crops
  • Commercial aspects of plant transformation
  • Ethics and genetic engineering
  • Biotech crops and international development
  • The communication of genetic engineering
Labs & Seminars:

Labs will be focused on preparing and fine-tuning very effective oral presentations that students will deliver to the class.

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test Contribution to Final Mark Learning Outcomes Assessed

Assigned tasks or readings


1, 2, 3, 4

Personal Paper



Group Project Presentation


1, 3, 4, 5

Additional Notes:

There will be assigned tasks or readings given at each class. These will be short and feasible in a reasonable time. Assignments will serve as the basis for in-class discussion. Students will need to bring a hard copy of their assignment to class. Email submission will not be accepted.

Final examination:

There is no final examination scheduled for this course.

Course Resources:

Required Texts:


Recommended Texts:


Lab Manual:


Other Resources:

Material will be made available on CourseLink as required.

Field Trips:


Additional Costs:


Course Policies:

Policy on Late Assignments:

Answers to all take home assignments are due at the beginning of class on the dates specified. A penalty of 10% per day will be deducted for late assignments. Requests for extensions due to illness or other personal issues must be made in writing and accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation.


Students have 5 class-days upon receiving assignments to appeal to the instructor. The entire assignment will be re-evaluated for accuracy of grading.

Course Policy on Group Work: 

It is assumed that every students in a group will contribute equally to the final product. As a result the mark given to the group will be the individual mark.

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.


Turnitin will be used in the evaluation of the Individual Essay. Turnitin is integrated with the CourseLink DropBox tool, to detect possible plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration or copying as part of the ongoing efforts to maintain academic integrity at the University of Guelph.

All submitted versions of the essay will be included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. Use of the Turnitin.com service is subject to the Usage Policy posted on the Turnitin.com site.

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:


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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

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