• Class Number 3666
  • Term Code 3030
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Michael Djordjevic
    • EmPr Marilyn Ball
    • Prof Susanne von Caemmerer
    • Prof Ulrike Mathesius
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/02/2020
  • Class End Date 05/06/2020
  • Census Date 08/05/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/03/2020
    • Ariel Ivanovici
    • Courtney Winning
    • Dr Derek Collinge
    • Kelly Chapman
    • Michael Taleski
SELT Survey Results

Life on this planet depends upon the oxygen and food provided by plants. Food security, loss of habitat and biodiversity, land clearing, fish kills in inland waterways due to nutrient runoff and improving the efficiency of photosynthesis are some of the important hot topics relevant to plant biology. So what makes plants “tick”, and can they be improved so that the negative environmental impacts of intensive cropping can be balanced with ensuring food security? Modern plant science holds unprecedented opportunities to link processes at the genetic, molecular and physiological level to patterns at the overall plant level so that future food security can be achieved without compromising the environment. This multidisciplinary course encompasses molecular biology, genetics, plant physiology and development, as well as how plants respond to abiotic stress. This course exposes you to an exciting breadth of contemporary plant sciences so you can develop an understanding of this rapidly changing and fundamental field. You will develop skills and techniques important in contemporary plant science. You will apply your newly honed plant science skills to a detective problem - an intensive research project diagnosing the consequences of specific genetic mutations to plant growth, physiology and development. This research project gives students a taste of a real research environment and is one to consider should you be contemplating Honours or a career in plant science.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, 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

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/.

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 (Djordjevic) Discussion of course structure (Djordjevic) L1 Embryogenesis Anatomy (Mathesius) Tutorial – No Tute None
2 3 Lectures L2-L4 Signals and Signal transduction: Cell-Cell communication and Hormone Signalling (auxins and ABA) (Djordjevic) Tutorial: How does the prac work and why is unique? Sign up to prac. course participation
3 3 Lectures L5-7 Signals and Signal transduction: Cell-Cell communication and Hormone Signalling (cytokinin, ethylene, regulatory peptides) (Djordjevic) Induction in Gould 103 on Wednesday afternoon (required for entry into glasshouses during practical weeks i.e. w 4-6 and w 7-9 ) Tutorial – No Tute course participation Induction: Gould Rm 103
4 3 Lectures L8 Signals and Signal transduction: Cell-Cell communication and Hormone Signalling (Brassinosteroids) (Djordjevic) L9-10 Nitrogen uptake Assimilation remobilisation and plant responses to N limitation (Djordjevic) Tutorial: Critical thinking how to interpret prac data course participation Plant Detectives Prac attendance + Quiz
5 2 lectures L11 Nitrogen uptake Assimilation remobilisation and plant responses to N limitation (Djordjevic) L12 Phosphorus uptake and plant responses to P limitation (Djordjevic) Review of L1-11 (In scheduled lecture class time) Tutorial: HPLC basics course participation Plant Detectives Prac attendance + Quiz
6 2 lectures L13-14 Water relations (Ball) Tutorial: Using TAIR (The Arabidopsis Information Resource) as an important resource for the Practical Report. Mid Semester Exam 1 Plant Detectives Prac attendance + Quiz
7 3 lectures L15-L16: Water Relations (Ball) L17 Cell Biology (Mathesius) Tutorial: Licor/photosynth Plant Detectives Prac attendance + Quiz
8 3 lectures L18 Cell Biology (Mathesius) L19 Roots (Mathesius) L20 C3/34 (Ermokova) Tutorial – No Tute Plant Detectives Prac attendance + Quiz
9 3 lectures L21 C3/34 (Ermokova) C22--23 photosynthesis (Ermokova) Tutorial: Data analysis Licor Photosynth Plant Detectives Prac attendance + Quiz
10 Review of lectures 12-23 (in scheduled lecture class time) No lecture prepare prac report theory exam 2 Tutorial: Creating a bibliography: how to use Endnote (important for Prac report write up) Presentation of Prac report (group presentation) Mid Semester Exam 2
11 No lectures Tutorials in lecture slots to prepare Plant Detectives Prac report Monday: How to effectively search the literature (Djordjevic) Tuesday: How to write the practical report part 1 abstract intoduction figs and tables (Djordjevic) Wednesday: How to write the Practical report Pt2 Methods Results (Djordjevic) Thursday: How to write the Practical report Pt3 Discussion Literature (Djordjevic)
12 No lectures or tutorials use lecture times to meet to prepare Plant Detectives Prac report Plant detectives report - due Thursday 27th May

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 % 31/03/2020 03/04/2020 1
Mid-semester theory exam 2 25 % 14/05/2020 18/05/2020 1
Plant Detectives Prac report 30 % 27/05/2020 05/06/2020 2,3
Plant detective's Quizzes 10 % * * 1,2
Group presentation 8 % 13/05/2020 15/05/2020 1,4
Participation in Lectures 2 % 02/03/2020 24/03/2020 1,2,3,4

* 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. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

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, which cumulatively is 50% of the total assessment 


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: 31/03/2020
Return of Assessment: 03/04/2020
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 exams 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: 14/05/2020
Return of Assessment: 18/05/2020
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 exams 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: 27/05/2020
Return of Assessment: 05/06/2020
Learning Outcomes: 2,3

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 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

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. The quizzes will open up to one week before the start of the prac and be due 20 min before the prac starts.

Quiz 1:

Due date: 2020-03-18

Quiz 2:

Due date: 2020-03-25

Quiz 3:

Due date: 2020-04-01

Quiz 4:

Due date: 2020-04-22

Quiz 5:

Due date: 2020-04-29

Quiz 6:

Due date: 2020-05-06

Assessment Task 5

Value: 8 %
Due Date: 13/05/2020
Return of Assessment: 15/05/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,4

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: 02/03/2020
Return of Assessment: 24/03/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Participation in Lectures

A set of study questions will be made available prior to each lecture 2-12. Prepare answers to these questions and discuss them in class. Marks can be deducted for lack of participation. (2%)

Lectures 2 -12 are held from 2020-03-03 to 2020-03-25

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to 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 be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, 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 Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

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) 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. Extensions may be granted 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
EmPr Marilyn Ball
6125 5057

Research Interests

EmPr Marilyn Ball

Prof Susanne von Caemmerer
6125 5053

Research Interests

Prof Susanne von Caemmerer

Prof Ulrike Mathesius
6125 2840

Research Interests

Prof Ulrike Mathesius

Ariel Ivanovici

Research Interests

Ariel Ivanovici

Courtney Winning
02 6125 9090

Research Interests

Courtney Winning

Dr Derek Collinge
02 6125 9090

Research Interests

Dr Derek Collinge

Kelly Chapman
02 6125 9090

Research Interests

Kelly Chapman

Michael Taleski
02 6125 9090

Research Interests

Michael Taleski

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