Plant Physiology

TPSS 470


Robert Paull

Semesters taught:

Spring 2016


The objectives of this course are to provide students with an understanding of whole plant physiology, and the fundamental significance of the underlying biochemical and molecular processes involved. You should gain an understanding and appreciation of plant function, including the dynamic processes of growth, development and reproduction and the response to the environmental stresses. Environmental stresses include drought, flooding, nutrient deficiencies, salinity, toxic ions, extreme temperatures and insect feeding and diseases. Wild and cultivated plant species responds to these stresses at the molecular, physiological, developmental and morphological levels and in doing so enable plants to avoid or tolerate these stresses via stress acclimation and adaptation processes.

Specifically, the course provides basic information on crop processes and responses that will later be used in crop production, horticulture, plant protection and plant breeding and other areas of environmental management that require understanding of normal plant growth and development.

Skills and knowledge to be acquired:

Students should know about plant cells and the molecular involved in plant growth and development, plant nutrition, water relations and how plants interact with their environments. Students should be able to apply the knowledge gained to ecological and plant production problems.


Integration of form and function from cellular to whole plant levels in processes from seed germination, through photosynthesis, growth, and morphogenesis, to flowering and senescence. A-F only. Pre: BIOL 171 and CHEM 152, or consent. DB

Computer skills to be acquired:



BIOL 171 & CHEM 162 or consent


William G. Hopkins and Norman P. A. Huner (2009) Introduction to Plant Physiology: 4th Edition. John Wiley & Sons.
    Buy directly from Amazon or another mail order firm. A Kindle edition is available for rent at ~$38 for 120 days.

Other Resources
Brian J. Atwell, Paul E. Kriedemann, Colin G.N. Turnbull (Editors) 1999. Plants In Action. Freely available at

Pessarakli, M (ed.) 2002, Handbook of plant and crop physiology, 2nd Edition. Marcel Dekker, New York.

Smith, DL & Hamel C (eds) 1999, Crop yield: physiology and processes, Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Pratley, J (ed.) 2003, Principles of field crop production, 4th Edition. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Films and videos:


Guest Speakers:

Dr. Richard Criley

Field Trips:


Course organization:

The lecture periods will involve both a presentation of the questions posed at the start of each of the textbook chapter and a discussion of the chapter topic. Students are expected to read the chapter in the textbook before class and be prepared to answer questions and enter into discussion on the chapter’s contents.

Two themes will be used to develop the principal concepts in plant growth and development: i) grafting of plants and how the graft union forms, and, ii) environmental factors and managing plant growth and development in modern greenhouses.

The course covers the following areas of plant physiology in the order given in the recommended text:

  • Reductionism, Laws & Analysis
  • Plant Cells and Water.
  • Whole Plant Water Relations.
  • Roots, Soils, and Nutrient Uptake.
  • Plants and Inorganic Nutrients.
  • Bioenergetics and ATP Synthesis.
  • The Dual Role of Sunlight: Energy and Information.
  • Energy Conservation in Photosynthesis: Harvesting Sunlight.
  • Energy Conservation in Photosynthesis: CO2 Assimilation.
  • Allocation, Translocation, and Partitioning of Photoassimilates.
  • Cellular Respiration: Unlocking the Energy Stored in Photoassimilates.
  • Nitrogen Assimilation.
  • Carbon and Nitrogen Assimilation and Plant Productivity.
  • Responses of Plants to Environmental Stress.
  • Acclimation to Environmental Stress.
  • Adaptations to the Environment.
  • Development: An Overview.
  • Growth and Development of Cells.
  • Hormones I: Auxins.
  • Hormones II: Gibberellins.
  • Hormones III: Cytokinins.
  • Hormones IV: Abscisic Acid, Ethylene, and Brassinosteroids.
  • Photomorphogenesis: Responding to Light.
  • Tropisms and Nastic Movements: Orienting Plants in Space.
  • Measuring Time: Controlling Development by Photoperiod and Endogenous Clocks.
  • Flowering and Fruit Development.
  • Temperature: Plant Development and Distribution.
  • Biotic Stresses - Insects and diseases.
  • Secondary Metabolites.


Three examinations, each worth 100 points, for a total of 300 points. Another 200 points will be allocated to participation in class discussion. The final examination will be taken during the final examination week and cover the last one third of the course.


2013 October 09