PBR-21306 Biosystematics, Evolution and Agrobiodiversity


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper4
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. HJ van Eck
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. HGJ Gremmen
prof. dr. BJ Zwaan
dr. JAL van Kan
dr. ir. J Helder
prof. dr. ME Schranz
dr. ir. HJ van Eck
dr. FT Bakker
Examiner(s)dr. ir. HJ van Eck

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

GEN-11806 Fundamentals of Genetics and Molecular Biology; NEM-10306 Introduction Plant Sciences and NEM-10806 Orientation Plant Sciences.


This course will study genetic and evolutionary concepts to understand the forces that shape Plant Variation and Biodiversity, with emphasis on complex agro-ecological communities of crops, weeds, pests and pathogens. The evolution of the plant kingdom, and crop species in particular, will be discussed from a Darwinian as well as from a comparative genomics perspective.
During tutorials DNA sequences will be used to reconstruct dendrograms with clustering as well as phylogenetic trees with cladistic methods. Furthermore, the patterns and dynamics of genetic variability will be analysed and we will recognize the contributions of the evolutionary forces.
Literature study will provide contemporary examples on the importance of biosystematic and evolutionary knowledge to draw meaningful conclusions regarding sustainable pest and pathogen resistance, ecological aspects of the release of GM-crops, and the importance of genetic diversity and conservation strategies for future breeding goals.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand quantitative and population genetics concepts, including heritability, random mating, natural selection, fitness, and genetic drift;
- understand evolutionary concepts explaining the origin of biological complexity, including mutation, horizontal gene transfer, and genome duplications;
- explain species concepts and apply biosystematic approaches for the reconstruction of phylogenetic trees;
- apply these evolutionary and population genetic concepts to understand crop evolution, pathogen evolution and host-pathogen co-evolution;
- apply evolutionary concepts in contemporary issues in plant sciences, including conservation of genetic resources, breeding, ecological aspects of GMO release, invasive plants and pathogen species.


- to attend lectures;
- to participate in the supervised study and tutorial;
- self-study of scientific articles, text book Griffiths, practicing exercises from blackboard and Griffiths and powerpoint presentations;
- to write an individual paper and an oral presentation of the paper;
- to take daily Blackboard self-assessments to monitor your study progress;
- to attend discussion of self-assessments (the morning after).


The exam is a written test with multiple choice and open questions and contributes 90% to the final mark. 10% of the final mark is based on the individual paper. Both marks need to be sufficient to pass.


Relevant literature will be made available at the start of the course.

Compulsory for: BPWPlant SciencesBSc4WD