Plant Development

Offered Fall semester of odd-numbered years   •   Three one-hour lectures per week

 0  Review of plant growth and physiology 
 1   Plant versus Animal Development
 2   Concepts in Developmental Biology
 3   Rule-Based Systems in Development
 4   Patterns in Space
 5   Cell vs. Organismal Theory of Development
 6   Embryogeny: Initiation & Early Patterning
 7   Embryogeny: Patterning & Morphogenesis
 8   Embryogeny: Clonal Analysis
 9   Axial Polarity
10  Root Meristems
11  Root Epidermal Patterning
12  Root Growth Analysis
13  Shoot Apical Meristems: Formation & Form
14  Shoot Apical Meristems: Function & Phyllotaxy
15  Leaf Ontogeny
16  Leaf Morphogenesis
17  Leaf Surface: Stomata
18  Leaf Surface: Trichomes
19  Phase Change: Juvenile to Adult
20  Phase Change: Vegetative to Reproductive
21  Inflorescence Meristem
22  Floral Meristem
23  Androecium Development
24  Gynoecium Development
25  Pollination and Fertilization
26  Gametophytic Self-Incompatibility
27  Sporophytic Self-Incompatibility
  • Content.   IB424 addresses the biochemical and genetic mechanisms underlying plant development. We begin with a brief overview of developmental theory and proceed to examine mechanisms governing the development of embryos, roots, shoots, leaves and flowers, including gametogenesis, pollination and fertilization. Emphasis is placed on principles and common themes involving macromolecules, hormones and cell-cell interaction. Along the way, we become familiar with a variety of cellular, molecular and genetic methods useful for unlocking the secrets of plant development. The overarching goal of the course is to provide students with a working knowledge of modern plant developmental biology. For an extended description of course content and approach, go here.

  • Resources.   There is no required textbook in IB424 as plant development is too small and rapidly advancing a field for publishers to take the risk. We use a course manangement system to deliver readings (Moodle, through ATLAS). Each topic is introduced with a trailer, a teaser to be downloaded and read before class that provides a brief summary of selected major points. Links to primary research articles and reviews are provided with the most valuable readings highlighted. Relevant chapters from a couple of textbooks are available online as well. Lecture Powerpoints are made available after each topic is complete. Links from syllabus at left lead to pages from the 2009 (pre-Moodle) edition of IB424.

  • Assignments.  Working knowledge of a rapidly expanding field such as plant development means being able to make sense of the current literature. Accordingly, a key component of IB424 is a periodic Journal Club during which we will discuss an assigned, recently published original research article. Questions regarding the article are posted online before the class in which the paper is discussed. Not only are all students required to post answers to the questions online, but all must then critique the answers provided by a fellow student. In addition to weekly journal assignments, students will be asked periodically to update our IB424 Methods Wiki, an online resource intended to familiarize everyone with techniques used in plant developmental research. Finally, each student must prepare a research proposal as a term project, due the last week of class. The topics of research proposals are wide open (but plant developmental) and to be chosen by each student. A pre-proposal is due before Thanksgiving break to assure that no one procrastinates the assignment until the end of the semester.

  • Grading.    Semester total: 1000 pts.
       Three exams: 80, 100 and 120 pts each (no comprehensive final).
       Ten journal club assignments (out of 11): 30 pts each for a total of 300 pts.
       Research proposal: 300 pts (of which preproposal = 75 pts) (undergrad proposals have less emphasis placed on experiments than grad students' proposals)
       Wiki contribution: 100 pts.
       Grading subject to change as semester start approaches.

  • Email Tom Jacobs with questions about the course.