PHP-30806 Molecular Aspects of Bio-interactions


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Practical intensively supervised50
Project learning
Course coordinator(s)dr. JAL van Kan
Lecturer(s)dr. JAL van Kan
prof. dr. M Dicke
dr. G Smant
prof. dr. HJ Bouwmeester
prof. dr. T Bisseling
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 potential defense mechanisms in plants;
- similarities between plant resistance proteins in relation to specificity towards effector proteins in the attacker;
- signaling processes within an individual plant and between a plant and its neighbors;
- defense-related signal transduction pathways and the cross-talk between pathways;
- mechanisms and strategies by which attackers invade plants, overcome host defense 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 defense 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 defense 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 above research project.


Lectures, practical course.


On the basis of a written exam (60%), the experimental skills and quality of the report of the practical (40%). The mark for the exam must be sufficient.


Reader available from WUR-shop.

Compulsory for: MPBPlant BiotechnologyMScC: Molecular Plant Breeding and Pathology2AF
Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScA: Cell Biology2AF
MBIBiologyMScA: Cell Biology2AF
MBIBiologyMScB: Plant Biology2AF
MBIBiologyMScB: Plant Biology2AF
MBIBiologyMScB: Plant Biology2AF
MBIBiologyMScC: Animal Biology2AF
MBIBiologyMScC: Animal Biology2AF
MBIBiologyMScC: Animal Biology2AF
MBIBiologyMScA: Cell Biology2AF
MBIBiologyMScB: Plant Biology2AF
MPSPlant SciencesMScE: Plant Pathology and Entomology2AF
Compulsory for: WUEPSBSc Minor Experimental Plant Sciences2AF