Plant Biology


At the end of the semester, students will have acquired the necessary skills to critically assess the complexity of plants, their adaptations to the environment and their relevance in society. Specifically, they will be able to:

(1) Evaluate the contribution of Plant Biology to solving societal challenges.

(2) Understand the implications of climate change on agricultural production.

(3) Identify environmental factors with a major impact on plant growth and development (e.g. availability of water and mineral nutrients in the soil, pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms).

(4) To frame molecular innovations in research in Plant Biology.

(5) Discuss the ethical implications, risks and opportunities of using different technologies in plant breeding, e.g. genetically modified crops.

(6) Identify molecular mechanisms involved in water transport and its regulation;

(7) Identify molecular mechanisms of absorption, regulation and transport of mineral nutrients and their implications for plant development;

(8) Describe the relationship between photosynthesis and water availability.

(9) Indicate why photosynthesis is considered an inefficient process.

(10) Identify molecular mechanisms of photosynthesis regulation.

(11) To describe the metabolic importance of sucrose in the cellular context and in the plant context.

(12) Identify growth regulators and molecular aspects of their signaling pathways.

(13) Identify and analyze molecular recognition mechanisms in plant-microorganism interactions (beneficial or pathogenic interactions).

In parallel, students will:

(14) Acquire skills in terms of teamwork, task management and critical and constructive discussion of experimental results.

(15) Complement skills acquired or being acquired, in the Curricular Units of “Metabolism and Regulation”, “Cell Biology A”, “Molecular Biology” and “Laboratory Techniques in Biology II” (2nd year of Degree). 

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Carla Maria Alexandre Pinheiro, Luís Jaime Gomes Ferreira da Silva Mota


Weekly - 5

Total - 73

Teaching language



Available soon


Main textbook: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology of Plants de Bob Buchanan, Wilhelm Gruissem, Russell Jones, John Wiley & Sons (2015);

Specific chapters on plant water relations: Plant Physiology de Lincoln Taiz e Eduardo Zeiger (5ª Edição). Sinauer Associates Inc. Publishers (2010);

Scientific papers and reference works will be used as model cases to be discussed in tutorial sessions.

Teaching method

Lectures: ppt presentations (content available at CLIP and Moodle);

Practical’s: laboratory component;

Presentation of results obtained in practical classes; presentation and discussion of scientific papers.

Evaluation method

Special educational needs will have to be communicated to the professor by the end of the first week of classes.

Grading methods

• approval in the theoretical component (70% final grade); the grade obtained must be ≥ 9.01 values (0-20);

• attend at least 2/3 of the practical classes. Attendance will be included in the classification;

• approval in the practical component (30% final grade); the grade obtained must be ≥ 9.01 (0-20). The grade obtained in this component is valid for the following year if the student does in not approved in the theoretical component;

• the final grade is calculated as (0.7 T + 0.3 P) (rounded to one hundredth).

Theoretical assessment

• three partial tests of 60 min each (there is no minimum grade per test, no repetition of tests allowed);

• In case of absence in one of the tests, it will be considered that it obtained the classification zero (0);

• An exam covering the entire subjects (3h) will be available (pre-registration in CLIP needed) when students do not achieve the test''''''''s threshold. 

• Students wishing to make improve their grades are allowed to perform the exam. In this latter case, P grade will also be considered.

P assessment

• laboratory performance (motivation, interest, participation, attendance).

• one TBL

• hands-on activity (in class);

Participation in the discussions of the other group’s presentations is also an element of evaluation. The absence of one or more group members at these assessment classes will penalize the group as a whole.

Subject matter


• Water absorption and transport;

• Molecular mechanisms of mineral nutrition

• Photosynthesis

• Photorespiration

• Growth and development under stress

• Plants & pathogens - resistance pathway analysis

• Plants & microsymbionts - SYM pathway analysis

Practical classes

-RuBisCO fractionation, responsible for atmospheric CO2 assimilation and one of the most abundant proteins;

-Electrophoretic analysis of protein extracts;

- Hands-on activities (examples: Plant Awareness; Glossary construction; Feeding the world; Photosynthesis inefficiency; Friends, Foes, Allies and Adversaries)


Programs where the course is taught: