• Class Number 3863
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Michael Djordjevic
    • Prof Marilyn Ball
    • Prof Susanne von Caemmerer
    • Prof Ulrike Mathesius
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
    • Kelly Chapman
    • Michael Taleski
    • Dr Teresa Neeman
SELT Survey Results

Food crises, GMOs, loss of biodiversity, climate change and increased incidence of abiotic stress- these are hot topics, and all of them are intrinsically linked to plants. Modern plant science holds unprecedented opportunities to link processes at the genetic, molecular and physiological level to patterns at the crop or plantation level to address these important issues and ensure future food security. This multidisciplinary course exposes you to an exciting breadth of contemporary plant sciences so you can develop a synthetic understanding of this rapidly changing field. Links between genetics, molecular biology, anatomy and physiology will be made. You will develop skills in several techniques important in contemporary plant science. You will apply your newly honed plant science skills to a detective problem - an intensive research project diagnosing consequences of specific genetic mutations to plant growth and physiology. This research project gives students a taste of a real research environment.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Understand and critically evaluate the way plants function at a whole organism level - linking gene function and signaling mechanisms with physiology and performance in nature
  2. Develop, evaluate and apply a range of contemporary techniques in plant science through guided independent laboratory research: Plant Detectives
  3. Analyse, interpret evaluate and present results of independent research
  4. Work collaboratively in a group to critically interpret results and present these findings orally

Research-Led Teaching

BIOL3002 has an innovative, research-led learning design where lectures and the accompanying practical are complementary. BIOL3002 links plant genetics, biochemistry, physiology and function. This multidisciplinary course introduces you to the exciting breadth of contemporary plant sciences so you can develop an understanding of this rapidly changing field. Students get hands-on experience of cutting-edge plant science research techniques and exposure to specialist instrumentation. Students gain insights into the multi-faceted nature of plant science research in the “Plant Detectives” practical where they used genetically-mapped Arabidopsis thaliana mutants. Students are challenged, using a guided research approach, to apply their conceptual learning to identify unknown genetic mutations affecting plant form and function. This gives students early exposure to the challenges, rigors and excitement of plant science research. Many students are motivated to continue their studies as plant biologists in research-focused project-based courses as well as honours and doctoral programs.

Field Trips

Not relevant

Additional Course Costs

lab goggles

lab coat

hard copy prac manual (optional)

text book (optional)

Examination Material or equipment

Students are permitted an English Language dictionary, without annotation. No other materials are permitted. 

Required Resources

Prac manual is available online. downloaded for free at http://press.anu.edu.au/titles/anu-etext/the-plant-detectives-manual/. The hard copy is optional.

Plant Physiology and Development, 2015, Taiz, Zeiger, Moller & Murphy, 6th ed., Sinauer (Recommended text)

Biology of Plants, 2005, Raven, Evert & Eichhorn, 7th ed., Freeman (Additional information)

Plant Physiology and Development is available from the Co-op Bookshop, or on reserve in the Hancock Library.

The Plant Detectives Manual (hard copy optional)

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • during the interactive sessions in lectures
  • written on the prac report
  • during Plant Detective's practical sessions
  • on theory exams
  • The online pre-lab quizzes give feedback to students to ensure they understand the content of pracs and important concepts emanating from the prac class.

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 3 lectures Introductory lecture, Course structure Prac outline L1 Embryogenesis Anatomy Tutorial – Information literacy, how to search literature (enables skills required for Major Assessment (i.e. the Prac report due w12) None
2 3 Lectures L2-L4 Signals and Signal transduction: Cell-Cell communication and Hormone Signalling (auxins and ABA) Tutorial: An introduction to the Plant Detectives Practical Course course participation
3 2 Lectures L5-6 Signals and Signal transduction: Cell-Cell communication and Hormone Signalling (cytokinin, ethylene) Glasshouse induction on Wednesday afternoon (required for entry into glasshouses during practical weeks i.e. w 4-6 and w 7-9 ) course participation
4 3 Lectures L7-9 Signals and Signal transduction: Cell-Cell communication and Hormone Signalling (peptide hormones) Nitrogen uptake and Assimilation Tutorial: How to write the Practical Report Pt1 Abstract, Introduction Methods course participation Plant Detectives Prac attendance + Quiz
5 2 lectures L10 Nitrogen uptake and Assimilation L11 Phosphorus uptake and plant responses to P limitation Review of L1-11 (In scheduled lecture class time) Tutorial: How to write the Practical Report Pt2 Figures, Results, Discussion course participation Plant Detectives Prac attendance + Quiz
6 2 lectures L12-13 Advanced Cell Biology and Root Biology Tutorial: Using TAIR (The Arabidopsis Information Resource) as an important resource for the Practical Report. Plant Detectives Prac attendance + Quiz Mid Semester Exam 1
7 3 lectures L14-L15: Advanced Cell Biology and Root Biology L16 Water relations Tutorial: Measuring photosynthesis (an important tute related to Pracs 5 and 6) Plant Detectives Prac attendance + Quiz
8 3 lectures L17-19 Water Relations Tutorial: data analysis 1 with a statistical consultant (an important adjunct to the Prac and required for preparing Practical Report. Plant Detectives Prac attendance + Quiz
9 3 lectures L20-22 C3/C4 photosynthesis Tutorial: data analysis 2 with a statistical consultant ( an important adjunct to the Prac and required for preparing Practical Report). Plant Detectives Prac attendance + Quiz
10 1 Lecture L23 Photosynthesis Review of lectures 12-23 (in scheduled lecture class time) Tutorial: Creating a bibliography: how to use Endnote (important for Prac report write up) Presentation of Prac report (group presentation)
11 Mid Semester Exam 2 No lectures or tutorials Use lecture times to meet to prepare Plant Detectives Prac report Mid Semester Exam 2
12 No lectures or tutorials use lecture times to meet to prepare Plant Detectives Prac report Plant detectives report

Tutorial Registration

Plant Detectives practical sign up in Wattle

tutorial times are published on Wattle

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Mid-semester theory exam 1 25 % 01/04/2019 05/04/2019 1
Mid-semester theory exam 2 25 % 20/05/2019 25/05/2019 1
Plant Detectives Prac report 30 % 30/05/2019 07/06/2019 3
Plant detective's Quizzes 10 % 18/03/2019 13/05/2019 2,3
Group presentation 8 % 15/05/2019 17/05/2019 4
Participation in Lectures 2 % 04/03/2019 31/03/2019 1,4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Some lectures (as indicated) will include a participation assessment. Study questions will be assigned ahead of time and these will guide students to think about the course material prior to lectures. The questions will be addressed during the lectures and participation from members of the class is required in the form of an active discussion of the study questions. Marks can be deducted for failure to participate.

Attendance at the Plant Detectives practical class is COMPULSORY. Unexcused absences attract a 5% penalty of the practical component mark. 


Theory Exams: Two intra-semester exams will be conducted following a review session covering the lectures to be examined. The cumulative weighting is 50% of the course mark. A cumulative score of 50% or higher in the theory exams is a requirement to pass the course. All assessments must be handed in to pass the course.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 01/04/2019
Return of Assessment: 05/04/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1

Mid-semester theory exam 1

Multiple choice, short answer and long answer questions. A cumulative score of 50% or higher in the theory exam is one requirement to pass the course. All assessments must be handed in.


10 MCQ (1 mark each)8 short answer (2 marks)6 of 8 longer answer (4 marks each)

Assessment Task 2

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 20/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 25/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1

Mid-semester theory exam 2

Multiple choice, short answer and long answer questions. A cumulative score of 50% or higher in the theory exam is one requirement to pass the course. All assessments must be handed in.


10 MCQ (1 mark each)8 short answer (2 marks)6 of 8 longer answer (4 marks each)

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 30/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 07/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 3

Plant Detectives Prac report

You will prepare the final report as if it was a submission to the journal Functional Plant Biology. Write-ups should not exceed 4000 words (approximately 10 pages), not including title page, abstract, tables, figures or references. Your manuscript must be double or 1.5 line-spaced, single sided, 12-point font with margins at least 30 mm. Pages should be numbered consecutively. Papers that do not follow this format will not be marked. See Plant Detectives Manual section for detailed instructions and tips on writing and information in tutorials.


Abstract Introduction methods (20%)Conclusions Discussion References 33%Results 27%figures tables 20%

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 18/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 13/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 2,3

Plant detective's Quizzes

There are 6 quizzes one each before each practical session. Practical quizzes are done on line. All Quizzes must be attempted. 2% each (best 5 marks are used) The content is designed to make students familiar with the practical's aims content and underlying theory.

Quiz 1:

Due date: 2019-03-18

Return date: 2019-03-23

Quiz 2:

Due date: 2019-03-25

Return date: 2019-03-30

Quiz 3:

Due date: 2019-04-03

Return date: 2019-04-08

Quiz 4:

Due date: 2019-04-22

Return date: 2019-04-27

Quiz 5:

Due date: 2019-04-29

Return date: 2019-05-04

Quiz 6:

Due date: 2019-05-08

Return date: 2019-05-13

Assessment Task 5

Value: 8 %
Due Date: 15/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 17/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 4

Group presentation

The group presentation is 12 min + 3 minutes of questions. All members participate. Individual and group scores are tallied and averaged

Assessment Task 6

Value: 2 %
Due Date: 04/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/03/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,4

Participation in Lectures

A set of study questions will be made available prior to each lecture 2-11. Prepare answers to these questions and discuss them in class. Marks can be deducted for lack of participation. (2%)

Lectures 2 -11 are held from 2019-03-04 to 2019-03-26

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension is penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Hard copy assignments are returned to the Teaching and Learning Centre

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Michael Djordjevic

Research Interests

Root development, root nodulation and nitrogen fixation, root architecture, plant peptide hormones, proteomics, peptidomics, amino acid transporters

Prof Michael Djordjevic

Wednesday 14:00 17:00
Prof Marilyn Ball
6125 5057

Research Interests

Prof Marilyn Ball

Prof Susanne von Caemmerer
6125 5053

Research Interests

Prof Susanne von Caemmerer

Prof Ulrike Mathesius
6125 2840

Research Interests

Prof Ulrike Mathesius

Kelly Chapman

Research Interests

Kelly Chapman

Michael Taleski

Research Interests

Michael Taleski

Dr Teresa Neeman

Research Interests

Dr Teresa Neeman

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions