PHP-30806 Molecular Aspects of Bio-interactions


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work2
Course coordinator(s)dr. JAL van Kan
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. AR van der Krol
dr. JAL van Kan
dr. G Smant
dr. ir. RJM Kormelink
dr. ir. R Geurts
dr. EC Verhulst
Examiner(s)dr. JAL van Kan

Language of instruction:



The course focuses on the molecular basis of the interactions of plants with attackers (viruses, micro-organisms, nematodes, insects, parasitic plants), and beneficial organisms (symbiotic bacteria and fungi).
The following topics are discussed:
- the repertoire of defence mechanisms in plants;
- similarities between plant resistance proteins in relation to specificity towards effector proteins in the attacker;
- signalling processes within an individual plant and between a plant and its neighbours;
- defence-related signal transduction pathways and the cross-talk between pathways;
- mechanisms and strategies by which attackers invade plants, overcome host defence responses and reproduce in or on the host tissues;
- mechanisms and strategies by which symbiotic organisms interact with plants;
- how fundamental molecular knowledge on these biological processes can be exploited to improve control measures, by novel non-toxic chemicals or genetic modification.
Experiments in the practical course illustrate aspects of the theory.

Learning outcomes:

After the course the students:
- will have acquired insight into the molecular basis of interactions between plants and viruses, micro-organisms, nematodes, insects, parasitic plants, symbiotic bacteria and fungi;
- will be aware of the complexity of the repertoire of defence mechanisms that plants utilize to (directly or indirectly) counteract attackers;
- will comprehend how attackers invade plants and reproduce, with emphasis on the function of certain proteins in these processes;
- will comprehend how symbiotic organisms interact with plants without triggering defence responses;
- will understand how insights into bio-interactions can be exploited to the benefit of plants;
- will be able to perform a short research project in the field of bio-interactions in plants;
- will be able to write a report about the project.


Lectures and practical course.


- written test with 10 open questions (60%);
- evaluation of laboratory performance during short research project (20%);
- quality of group report on short research project (20%).
Each component needs a minimum mark of 5.5 to pass.


Reader available from WUR-shop.

Compulsory for: MBIBiologyMScB: Bio-interactions2AF
Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScC: Molecular Ecology2AF
MPSPlant SciencesMScE: Plant Pathology and Entomology2AF
MPBPlant BiotechnologyMScC: Molecular Plant Breeding and Pathology2AF