GEN-20806 Plant Biotechnology


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work5
Excursion (one day)4
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. ir. MGM Aarts
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. RD Hall
dr. ir. A Schots
prof. dr. ir. FPM Govers
prof. dr. ir. MGM Aarts
dr. ir. A Goverse
dr. ZH Robaey
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. MGM Aarts

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

CBI-10306 Cell Biology; GEN-11806 Fundamentals of Genetics and Molecular Biology or GEN-21306 Introduction to Genetic Analysis


Note 1: This course has a maximum number of participants. The deadline for registration is one week earlier than usual.
See Academic Year.( -> Registration for Courses.
Note 2: Note: This course can not be combined in an individual programme with MOB-20306 Gene Technology and/or PBR-23803 Plant Biotechnology.

This course builds upon Cell Biology (CBI-10306), Biological Chemistry (BIC-10306), Fundamentals of Genetics and Molecular Biology (GEN-11806) and the general plant science tutorials Introduction Plant Sciences (NEM-10306) and Orientation Plant Sciences (NEM-10806). It is a preparation for future courses in the BSc 2/3 and MSc wherein Plant Molecular Biology plays a key role, such as Genomics (ABG-30306), Regulation of Plant Development (MOB-30806), GATC (GEN-30306) or Plant Cell and Tissue Culture (PPH-30306). During the course, lectures will be given to introduce various aspects of Plant Biotechnology. The first set of lectures outlines the techniques used in Plant Biotechnology and in the second set, specific examples of application of these techniques and the effects on science and society are provided. Societal and ethical aspects of Plant Biotechnology are recurrent themes in the lectures, but also part of a dedicated work shop. During the course a plant biotech company will be visited, which will show how Plant Biotechnology is used commercially. Various laboratory techniques will be taught during hands-on practicals, covering all the steps from identification of a target gene to analysis of plants transformed to over-express the target gene. Tutorials will be given on basic bioinformatics approaches supporting the experimental practical. Throughout the course period, students will work on a group assignment focusing on a particular plant biotechnology case, which requires searching for and understanding of recent scientific literature. The results of this case study will be presented at the end of the course.

Learning outcomes:

The student is expected to gain theoretical knowledge on the plant biotechnology and acquired practical skills in basic plant biotechnology techniques. This means that after successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand the principles behind the isolation of genes and transfer to plants, based on general understanding of gene structure and expression;
- describe the analysis of gene expression and ways to regulate this;
- understand the complexity of several important plant traits and the consequences of genetic modification to modify plant traits;
- use genomic databases available through internet to collect and analyse plant gene sequences using bioinformatics tools;
- gather and interpret relevant scientific literature on plant biotechnology topics;
- apply molecular genetic and molecular biology techniques for DNA isolation, plant transformation and analysis of gene expression patterns in transgenic plants;
- evaluate and discuss the (im)possibilities of plant biotechnology applications from a technical and a societal point of view.


- Lectures
The first set of lectures introduces basic techniques used in Plant Biotechnology; in the second set, specific examples of application of these techniques and the effects on science and society are provided.
- Practical training
Various laboratory techniques will be taught during hands-on practicals, to perform plant transformation and analysis of transformed plants. The practical will provide an interactive learning environment through LabBuddy, which will allow students to perform bioinformatic analysis and retrieve additional background information to better understand the different experiments, if needed.
- Workshop
Half-way the course there will be a workshop on Societal and ethical aspects of Plant Biotechnology.
- Case study
In a group assignment a specific Plant Biotechnology case will be studied in detail, focusing on both the technical aspects of the case, as well as the societal and ethical aspects, including a scientific literature study and presentation of the case in a mini symposium.
- Excursion
In a half-day excursion, a local plant biotech company will be visited.


- written computer-based test with 60 multiple choice questions on text book and lectures (50%);
- written computer-based test with 25 multiple choice questions on practical (25%);
- an assignment report and group presentation (25%);
- each component needs a minimum mark of 5.5 to pass.


For this course the book 'Plant Biotechnology: the genetic manipulation of plants', 2nd edition, by A. Slater, N.W. Scott and M.R. Fowler, Oxford University Press (ISBN 978-0-19-928261-6), will be used.
The book may be purchased at the WUR-shop.

Compulsory for: BPWPlant SciencesBScA: Plant Genomics and Health2MO
Restricted Optional for: MPSPlant SciencesMScE: Plant Pathology and Entomology2MO
MPBPlant BiotechnologyMSc2MO
Compulsory for: WUPBTBSc Minor Plant Biotechnology2MO