Biology 236: Plant Biology

Winter 1997

Instructor: John Sollinger
Office: Chapel 251
Phone: 4428
Office Hours: By appointment and chance
Textbook: Biology of Plants, Raven, Evert, and Eichhorn,5th edition
Class Location: Mudd 171
Class Time: MW 08:30 am - 09:40 am, F 08:30 am - 09:30 am
Lab Location: Hulings Hall 103
Lab Time: TH 08:30 am - 12:30 pm
TA: Kris Groff Credits: 6

Course Information

Current Announcements

The final draft of your protein lab is due by 6PM, Friday, 3/14.

The following paper has been put on reserve and in the lab:
On Thursday, 3/06, we will have the fruit lab plus have short presentations of your adopt-a-plant project and a few independent project presentations.

Remaining independent project presentions will be held on Thursday, 2/13, starting at 10:00. Should we find a better place to meet?

The following papers have been put on reserve and in the lab:
  1. Benfey, PN and JW Schiefelbein (1994) Getting to the root of plant development: the genetics of Arabidopsis root formation. TIG 10: 84-88. FOR WED, 2/26.
  2. Tanimoto, M, Roberts, K and L Dolan (1995) Ethylene is a positive regulator of root hair development in Arabidopsis thaliana. The Plant J 8: 943-948. FOR FRI, 2/28.
  3. Okada, K and Y Shimura (1990) Reversible root tip rotation in Arabidopsis seedlings induced by obstacle-touching stimulus. Science 250: 274-276. FOR FRI, 2/28.

The following papers have been put on reserve and in the lab:
  1. Mayer, U., Berleth, T., Torres, R. A., Misera, S. and G. Jurgens (1993) Pattern formation during Arabidopsis embryo development. In: Cellular Communication in Plants (RM Amasino, Ed), Plenum Press, New York.; for Monday, Feb. 17.
  2. Vertucci, C.W. and J.M. Farrant (1995) Acquisition and loss of desiccation tolerance. In: Seed Development And Germination; for Wednesday, Feb. 19.

The tomato lab write-up is extra credit.

I want your weekly project updates to be put into the Fabio folder: Project Updates. Non-written texts are the only exceptions -- submit these in class or my mailbox. All updates due by 17:00 every Wed.

Starting Wednesday, Feb 5, I want a chapter and journal worksheets (see worksheet folder in Fabio) filled out and submitted by 21:00 the day before the chapter is scheduled to be presented. Presenters should read these worksheets and address the questions/problems in their presentations.

The following two papers have been put on reserve in the library for you to read for labs 5, 6 and 7 (copies are also available in Hulings Hall 103):
  1. Bradford, K J and P M Chandler. (1992) Expression of dehydrin-like proteins in embryos and seedlings of Zizania palustris and Oryza sativa during dehydration. Plant Physiol 99: 488-494.
  2. Thomann, E B, J Sollinger, C White, and C J Rivin. (1992) Accumulation of Group 3 late embryogenesis abundant proteins in Zea mays embryos -- Roles of abscisic acid and the vivparous-1 gene product. Plant Physiol 99: 607-614.

Henceforth I want hardcopies of all lab writeups.
For your adopted plant, I want you to characterize and document the growth and developement of your plant (i.e., the phyllotaxy, leaf type, presence of pubescence and wax, etc.), identify the species, and anything else you can think of. Consider capturing images to document changes. See me about access to imaging equipment. I will expect a short presentation at the end of the term.

Miscellaneous Information

If you have any learning disabilities/special needs, please make an appointment to see me early in the term.

Prequisites: Biology 120 or 122 and 123.

You are required to keep a lab notebook. Bring them to all labs. They will be subject to inspection without notice.

The course calendar is tentative and will be modified.

The textbook will be supplemented with readings in the primary literature, which will provide an opportunity for you to analyze and critically evaluate data and conclusions. You may wish to review some of the resources available on the internet through launch pads provided later on this page. Because I am a strong proponent of active learning, you will have ample opportunity to hone your oral and written communication skills through class discussions, frequent presentations and written assignments.

Journal articles are on reserve in the library. You may find it useful to browse the original, bound articles because many of the articles have color illustrations and photomicrographs that do not photocopy well.

Worksheets for journal articles will be due in my mailbox or the appropriate Fabio folder by 5 PM the day before the article is scheduled to be discussed. NOTE: Review articles have different worksheets. replacement.

Presentation evaluation forms will be filled out immediately following a student presentation and discussed near the end of the class period.

Quizzes will be unannounced and their frequency will be inversely proportional to the level of class participation.

A great resource guide for writing and speaking about biology isA Short Guide to Writing about Biology by Jan A. Pechenik, second edition, 1993.

Course Objectives

The primary objective of this course is to explore the basic concepts that will deepen your appreciation for the critical role of plants in the web of life. It is my hope that an heightened understanding of plants will allow you to identify those choices in life that enhance the survival of the plants and, therefore, all life. In this course we will explore the structure-function relationships in vascular plants from physiological, developmental, genetic and evolutionary perspectives. Emphasis will be on the seed plants, especially the angiosperms.

The laboratory will focus on experimental approaches to current questions in plant biology. Some of the experimental techniques that you will be using include tissue culture, greenhouse/growth room studies of germination, DNA and protein extraction, electrophoresis and Western blotting.
General goals for the labs:

Final Projects

Your final project will be worth 20% of your final grade and will be presented on or before the scheduled final exam period. To help you avoid procrastinating, you will be required to keep me abreast of your progress during frequently scheduled meetings and in-class written briefs. You can choose any one of a number of project options. If you choose to write a paper or grant proposal, embellish it with figures (drawings, flowcharts, tables, etc.) and make it have between 10,000 and 11,000 characters. Keep in mind that

       "Vigorous writing is concise.  A sentence should contain no 
       unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, 
       for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary 
       lines and a machine no unnecessary parts." 
                                      -- William Strunk, Jr., 1918.

Other possibilities for projects include presenting an extra journal article, giving a power point talk, making a poster or home page, running a class exercise (such as a game), and creating a sculpture or painting. Regardless of your choice, your project must first be cleared through me and


I want to meet with you individually and frequently throughout the term. NOTE: It is your responsibility to schedule these appointments. I will use this time to review your performance. We may also discuss course-related questions and issues.

Your comments and suggestions for improving this course are welcome anytime. Please use email whenever possible. However, if you prefer to submit your opinions annonymously, use the comments/suggestions folder in Fabio.


With respect to all written assignments, I am most interested in your analysis and synthesis of ideas rather than in your grammer skills. However, do not let grammer errors derail me from understanding the content.

Late assignments will not be accepted, but do your best to convince me otherwise.

The following is a guideline of how your course grades will be determined:
    * Class participation (attendance, discussion, facilitation and presentation)
    * Homework (paper reviews)
    * Final project
    * Quizzes (vocabulary and short essay)

Total %



A -Excellent


B - Good


C - OK


D - See Me

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