Topics of

Introduction, concepts, definitions (Plants, Physiology, Reductionism)

Parts of the cell and their function (Prokaryote - Eukaryote);

cell-types; cell organelles; membrane flow; acidic compartments;

endosymbiont theory;

cell wall structure, -synthesis, -function

Gene expression, Protein Sorting and Processing, Review of Enzymes and Enzyme Kinetics

Structure and properties of water

Thermodynamics of water: osmosis and water potential

Transpiration and long distance transport of Water - cohesion theory versus "common sense"

Mineral nutrition; C, O, N, S, P- cycles

Transmembrane transport of solutes (ions and others) - Mitchell's theory part I

I. The vacuolar H+-ATPase - molecular biology techniques and plant physiology; the evolution of the endomembrane system
II. Hexose proton co-transport at the plasmalemma

Long distance transport of solutes - mechanism of phloem transport, phloem loading and unloading

Example: A possible mechanism for sink strength determination - the cell wall bound acid invertase

Photosynthesis light absorption and electron transport

Z-scheme of bacterial and oxygenic photosynthesis

The water splitting "complex"

From electron and proton transport to ATP synthesis - Mitchell's theory part II

The "dark reaction" - Calvin cycle and alternatives

Photorespiration and how to avoid it, C-3, C-4 pathways and CAM -> environmental and agricultural implications

Respiration and carbohydrate synthesis in germinating seeds

Nitrogen fixation, nitrate assimilation and the nitrogen cycle, sulfate assimilation

Selected Biochemical Pathways Important in Plants

Cell Division, Pattern Formation and Morphogenesis

Plant hormones: Auxins, Gibberellins, Cytokinins, ABA, Ethylene

Photomorphogenesis and Phytochrom


The following topics will be included, if time permits:
Movements - taxis, tropism and nastic movements
Stress Physiology
Biological clocks
Photoperiodism, response to temperature, circannual rhythms

Textbook: Taiz/Zeiger, Plant Physiology, 2nd edition, Sinauer Associates

Additional, easy to read books that are recommended to fill knowledge gaps or to complement the material in class are :

Darnell/Lodish/Baltimore: Molecular Cell Biology, 2nd edition, Freeman & Co,

Stryer: Biochemistry, 3rd edition, Freeman & Co

Zimmermann, Martin Huldrych, 1926, Xylem structure and the ascent of sap, Springer-Verlag

Physicochemical and environmental plant physiology / Park S. Nobel. San Diego : Academic Press, Inc., 1991.


We will have a midterm (Oct.) and a final examination (Dec.).

In addition we will have short written quizzes in weekly to biweekly intervals.

The primary intention of these quizzes is to establish a feedback concerning the learning success, both for the students and for the instructor; however, in order to stimulate participation in and preparation for the quizzes, all of these quizzes are graded.

Students also will have several opportunities to submit essays.

The five best quizzes/essays will be considered in calculating the final grade.

The final grade of the course will take into account the final (weight 6), the midterm (weight 4) and the five quizzes/essays with the highest score for each student (each with weight 2).

The final grade will be calculated as follows:
(average grade quizzes A - E* 10 + grade midterm *4 + grade final *6) / 20.


If your are interested in gathering practical laboratory experiences in modern plant sciences, there are currently two possibilities.
A) Depending on enrollment there might be a summer lab course on plant molecular biology.
If you are interested, let me know your name and address and I will send you a flyer.
B) Several labs doing research on plants offer "independent" research (study) projects. This opportunity for hands on experiences is highly recommended, and it surely pays of if you start looking for a job after graduation; however, practical research requires time (at least 10h/week), commitment and sometimes a high frustration tolerance. For ideas whom to contact have a look at the Plant Science in Storrs brochure or contact me.


Johann Peter Gogarten
Room 73 (office)/85(lab)TLS, Phone 486-4061, e-mail:
Office hours: Monday and Wednesday 14.00-15.30 or by appointment.
Don't hesitate to drop by my office any other time,
except during the last 30 min. before class starts.