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BTNY201: Plant Functional Biology & Biotechnology

Teaching Staff

Associate Professor David J. Burritt & Associate Professor Paul Guy

Course Description


In this paper we investigate, using a combination of laboratories, project based research, lectures and tutorials, the processes and factors that control plant growth and development, and how plants can be manipulated to sustainably satisfy the increasing global demand for crops, food and fuels.

btny201_03You will learn the mechanisms that plants use to control their growth and development, and how an understanding of these mechanisms is enabling scientists to produce more efficient crop plants that produce greater yields, with fewer resources and a reduced environmental impact.

You will learn how to culture plant cells and produce artificial seeds, how to extend the postharvest lives of fruit, vegetables and cut flowers, how plant cells can be used as green chemical factories and how to produce super-plants that can cope with the stresses associated with climate change.


  • Section I (14 lectures) - The Development of Higher Plants: theory and biotechnological applications.
    • Manipulating plant cells, control of embryo & seedling development, artificial seeds, controlling vegetative growth & development, flowering & fruit set, postharvest biology, plant breeding & genetic modification.
  • Section II (6 lectures) - Plant Metabolism: designing better plants
    • Primary metabolism & management of reserves, secondary metabolism: plants & people, plant cells as green chemical factories & genetic manipulation of plant metabolism.
  • Section III (4 lectures) - Plant Responses to Stress: coping with climate change
    • How plants cope with stress, super-plants: manipulation of stress tolerance in plants, plants & people: a greener future or no future.


  • Experiment I (2 weeks) - An introduction to plant tissue culture
  • Experiment II (2 weeks) - How can the life of cut flowers be increased?
  • Mini-project (8 weeks) - Nodal propagation of potato and the induction of tuberization in vitro, OR plant-derived, Secondary metabolites and proteins

The Mini-projects involve formal laboratories, tutorials & self directed learning.


Project Course Percentage
Experiment 1 – An introduction to plant tissue culture 5%

Experiment 2 – Post harvest storage of Kiwi fruit
Subject to availability of materials

Mini-project 25%
Mid-semester Examination (one hour, closed book) 20%
Final Examination (two hour, closed book) 40%

Additional Course Information

More BTNY201 course and timetable information is available on the Courses and Subjects website.