PLANT SC 7226WT - Molecular Plant Breeding

Waite Campus - Winter - 2014

This course involves teaching sessions that may be attended by both Undergraduate and Postgraduate students. Plant molecular biology can be incorporated into crop improvement programs via plant transformation (gene technology) and/or via the application of genetic marker information. Plant cell and tissue culture is used in plant transformation and has other applications in plant breeding. This course considers the scientific basis for the application of plant transformation, molecular markers and cell and tissue culture in plant breeding.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PLANT SC 7226WT
    Course Molecular Plant Breeding
    Coordinating Unit School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
    Term Winter
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s Waite Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 24 hours per week for 3 weeks
    Assumed Knowledge PLANT SC 7225WT
    Restrictions Available to GradCertPHB, GradDipPHB, MHB students only
    Course Description This course involves teaching sessions that may be attended by both Undergraduate and Postgraduate students.
    Plant molecular biology can be incorporated into crop improvement programs via plant transformation (gene technology) and/or via the application of genetic marker information. Plant cell and tissue culture is used in plant transformation and has other applications in plant breeding. This course considers the scientific basis for the application of plant transformation, molecular markers and cell and tissue culture in plant breeding.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Diane Mather

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    Students will be able to:
    1. Understand and explain scientific principles behind plant cell and tissue culture, plant transformation, molecular markers and genome mapping.
    2. Analyse information from plant molecular biology research and recognize its potential applications in crop improvement.
    3. Synthesize information from plant molecular biology and plant breeding to design plant molecular breeding strategies.
    4. Evaluate the relative merits of plant transformation, marker-assisted breeding and conventional phenotypic selection for particular situations.
    5. Demonstrate skills in collaborative group learning processes, emergent technologies and the ability to apply these principles to a specified project.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 2,3,4
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 3,4,5
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 5
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 5
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 1-5
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1-5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Lab coats and closed-in shoes are required for laboratory work.
    Recommended Resources
    It is recommended that students read sections 20.1-20.5, 20.11 and 20.12 and Chapter 22 of the following book:
    • Acquaah, G. 2012, Principles of Plant Genetics and Breeding, 2nd edition, Blackwell Publishing, Malden.
    And the following book chapters:
    • Xu, Y. 2010 'Gene transfer and genetically modified plants' Pp 458-500 In Xu, Y. (Ed.) Molecular Plant Breeding, CABI.
    • Garcia, M & Mather DE 2014 ‘From genes to markers: exploiting gene sequence information to develop tools for plant breeding’, In Fleury, D & Whitford, R (eds.) Crop Breeding: Methods and Protocols. Methods in Molecular Biology vol. 1145, Springer Science+Business Media, New York.
    The DVD ‘Introduction to Molecular Techniques: Theory and Practice’ is also useful (see
    Online Learning
    Teaching materials and course documentation will be posted on the MyUni website. MyUni will be used extensively by academic staff and students .
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course includes a series of lectures, complemented by practical sessions and problem-based group learning sessions.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A full-time student in a 3-unit course should expect to spend a total of 156 hours  on their studies. This includes both the formal contact time required in the course (e.g. lectures, group work, practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g. reading, writing and revision).
    Learning Activities Summary
    Date Day Start End Activity Instructor
    16 Monday 9 10 Introduction to molecular plant breeding Diane Mather
    10 11 From genomics to molecular plant breeding - examples from rice Sigrid Heuer
    2 4 Group work Chad Habel, Diane Mather
    17 Tuesday 9 11 GM breeding: achievements and approaches Diane Mather
    18 Wednesday 9 1 LAB PRAC: Agrobacterium-mediated transformation (Waite GS) Nannan Yang
    2 4 Group work Chad Habel
    19 Thursday 9 11 GM breeding: regulatory and commercial considerations Diane Mather
    11 12 Visit to PC facility (containment glasshouse) Jan Nield
    20 Friday 9 1 LAB PRAC: Biolistic transformation (Waite GS) Nannan Yang
    3 5 Group work Chad Habel
    23  Monday 9 11 Novel plant breeding technologies Diane Mather
    11 12 Transformation methods Q&A Nannan Yang, Rohan Singh
    3 5 Group work Chad Habel, Diane Mather
    24 Tuesday 9 11 Markers in plant breeding 1 Diane Mather
    1 3 COMPUTER PRAC: From genes to markers (CH 129) Melissa Garcia
    25 Wednesday 9 1 LAB PRAC: Marker-assisted breeding - part 1 Tim March
    2 4 Group work  Chad Habel
    26 Thursday 9 11 Markers in plant breeding 2 Diane Mather
    1 2 Molecular methods in hybrid breeding Ryan Whitford
    27 Friday 9 1 LAB PRAC: Marker-assisted breeding part 2 Tim March
    30 Monday 9 10 Genomic selection Diane Mather
    10 11 Next-generation mutation breeding: TILLING and EcoTILLING Diane Mather
    2 4 Group work Chad Habel, Diane Mather
    1 Tuesday 9 10 Application of molecular methods in commercial wheat breeding Haydn Kuchel
    10 11 Application of molecular methods in almond breeding Michelle Wirthensohn
    2 Wednesday 9 1 COMPUTER PRAC: Understanding marker data (CH 129) Ken Chalmers
    2 4 Group work Chad Habel
    3 Thursday 9 10 Applications of tissue culture in plant breeding Diane Mather
    10 11 From transgenic plant to transgenic cultivar: the Golden Rice experience Diane Mather
    4 Friday 11 1 Review session Diane Mather
    2 4 Group work Chad Habel
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    The group problem-based learning project is a small group discovery experience.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Due Weighting Learning Outcome
    Group learning project Summative

    Friday 11 July

    35% LO2 - LO5
    Short assignments (on-line questions posted on MyUni) Summative To be scheduled during the course 30% LO1
    Final examination Summative Tuesday 8 July 35% LO1 - LO4
    Assessment Detail
    Short assignments
    During the course, students will be expected to answer short questions related to the course content. Questions and due dates will be posted on MyUni. One purpose of these assignments is to encourage students to keep up with the reading and lecture materials.

    Group project
    Students are assigned to work in groups, as consultants to the director of a research centre. Each group will prepare a report (up to 3000 words) on whether and how the CRISPR/Cas9 system could be used to address an assigned plant breeding objective. Each report should include:
    1. An executive summary
    2. An introduction to the plant breeding objective
    3. An introduction to CRISPR/Cas9 technology and the opportunity it presents to address the objective
    4. A specific plan for what would need to be done in order to successfully used CRISPR/Cas9 to address the objective
    5. A discussion of the key considerations that the client will need to take into account in order to decide whether to proceed with this as pilot project. This discussion does not need to be limited to scientific factors, but could also take regulatory (biosafety) and/or commercial factors into account. This discussion should give some consideration to whether there are alternative ways to address the objective and whether CRISPR/Cas9 has advantages or disadvantages relative to these alternatives.
    6. A list of recommendations that will be helpful to the client.
    7. A list of references cited in the report.
    The report will be assessed based on
    1. The extent to which the report demonstrates a thorough understanding of the assigned plant breeding objective and the CRISPR/Cas9 system (5 marks)
    2. The scientific validity and feasibility of the plan (10 marks)
    3. Professional presentation and clarity of the report (10 marks)
    4. Whether the recommendations are logical and consistent with the information presented (5 marks)
    5. Whether the plan uses references appropriately and thoroughly (5 marks)
    6. Moderation based on any observed inequality of contributions by group members, based on observations of instructors in combination with student input in an anonymous peer assessment survey (± between 0 and 5 marks).

    Final examination
    The final examination will be a three-hour written examination, with questions designed to assess your understanding of the concepts covered in the course.
    All written work is to be submitted via MyUni.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

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