Plant Microbe & Insect Interactions

University of Queensland

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Plant Microbe & Insect Interactions

  • Host University

    University of Queensland

  • Location

    Brisbane, Australia

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Recommended prerequisites: BIOL2203 + BIOL2205

    Assumed Background: BIOL2203 Plant Science is recommended but not a requirement. Some understanding of molecular biology or microbiology is helpful.

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Host University Units

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course Description
    Topics include molecular & biochemical interactions of plants with microbes & insects, cell signalling pathways, molecular & structural defence responses, disease diagnostics, applications in agriculture & biotech, as well as some interesting evolutionary & ecological aspects.
    Course Introduction
    This course is for you if you wish to learn how plants can interact with other organisms in a beneficial, neutral or detrimental manner. After this course you can expect to be familiar with classical plant pathology skills and the latest molecular techniques (even without prior knowledge). Importantly, you will also know how to apply this knowledge in plant and microbial biotechnology or applied ecology. The course has a focus in plant pathology (traditional and molecular) including the function of the "immune system" of plants, cell signalling pathways, functional genomics, plant microbiomes and generally covers concepts in plant molecular biology and "biotechnology towards sustainability".
    In particular, the course covers ecological, biochemical, genetic and molecular aspects of beneficial and parasitic interactions of plants with microorganisms or insects. You will gain an overview of the multiple interactions of plants (agricultural and native flora) with other organisms such as parasitic and symbiotic microorganisms, fungi, viruses, bacteria, nematodes and insects. The course covers economically important plant diseases and pests as well as symbiotic relationships with beneficial bacteria, fungi and insects that are essential in providing our food supply.
    The prac comprises a set Project A component in molecular plant pathology and a popular individual Project B component. Here, projects can be chosen from within UQ research labs or biotech industry, allowing students to gain specific skills by working in a molecular or traditional area of plant pathology or plant-symbiont interactions. Experiences gained and results will be presented in an informal mini-symposium at the end of the course. Weekly non-compulsory tutorials are provided throughout the semester.
    In the course we:
    • develop and apply methods in plant science and microbiology, including phenotypic assessements and new molecular approaches to better understand plant-microbe interactions.
    • assess the co-evolution of symbionts and parasites and their host plants. Why are most plants resistant to most pathogens?
    • determine how the interaction between a host and a parasite or symbiont can be controlled, in some instances, by single genes which activate a whole battery of defence genes in the plant. In contrast, the pathogen may evolve means to avoid detection by the host and subsequently parasitises the plant.
    • investigate the signalling pathways in the plant that lead to defence gene activation and also the mechanisms the pathogen or symbiont uses to sense a host plant, infect it and to ultimately gain nutrients from the host.
    • learn how insects find plants and how plants fight back and then find strategies for insect resistance.
    • investigate Australia's unique position with regard to diversity of pathogens in agricultural crops and how incursions can threaten the native flora as well as agricultural production. We can use molecular tools to assess this threat.
    • examine and debate the methods and roles of genetic engineering and beneficial microbes in plant disease control, particularly as alternatives to chemical control.
    • look at the commonality between apotosis (programmed cell death) in plants and that in mammalian systems.
    • look at novel means of plant disease diagnosis using molecular assays and take a cutting-edge look at functional genomics.
    • develop ideas and concepts on how we can make a difference to achieve sustainable food production.
    Learning Objectives
    After successfully completing this course you should be able to:
    1. Describe an overview of plant-parasitic interactions
    2. Describe an overview of plant-beneficial interactions
    3. Explain Infection and Colonisation Processes
    4. Explain Pathogenesis and Resistance
    5. Define Molecular Defence Mechanisms and Signalling
    6. Identify Biotech Applications of Plant-Organismal Interactions
    Class Contact
    3 Lecture hours, 3 Practical or Laboratory hours

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.