Plant Biology : Biol 233

Fall 2008

MWF Period 3 : 10:10-11:00

Fischman Wing 103


Instructor: Kathryn Edwards, aka “Dr E”

Higley 214


office: 427-5398

office hours: MWF 11-noon,  R,F 4-5, and by appointment


Course Description

In this course, you should develop a strong basis for a comprehensive understanding of the nature of the plant lifestyle and the unique biology that supports it, how scientists have come to understand this biology, and the ways in which scientists are pursuing knowledge and furthering our understanding of plant biology today.  Our study of plant biology will begin with the structure and function of plants, with an emphasis on flowering plants. We will then turn our discussions to the topics of diversity and evolution of plants (and algae).  We will begin to understand the critically important relationship we have with plants and why it is imperative that we nurture their place in the world.


Each of you begins this course with some knowledge of plants; the task of connecting new concepts and information to your initial foundation will involve different processes for each of you.  In addition, each of you begins this course with some level of expertise (or bias towards) a particular field within biology – be it physiology, ecology, molecular biology, or taxonomy - and I hope that our diverse backgrounds and biases will enrich our class discussions.  For this reason, your preparation for class meetings should include not only careful reading of the assigned chapters but also placing this new information in the context of your own expertise and your growing knowledge from the material covered in this class.


Prerequisite: BIOL 113 (13) or 114 (14) or permission of instructor. Enrollment limited.



Required textbook: Botany, 3rd edition; Mauseth, 2003.

Assigned chapters in: The Botany of Desire; Pollan, 2001

Additional journal articles will be procured by you or will be assigned throughout the semester and will be available in the library, on the web, and/or via electronic reserve. 



Botany Laser Round:  Mondays

Each of you will arrive with organized notes or index cards made of the reading assignment for the week.  Each student will stand before the class and present some interesting material from the reading that has not already been presented by previous students.  The student must be prepared to answer clarifying questions.  Students also have the option of contributing one or two cited images that clarified or added controversy to the text materials.

            Images must be stored on a usb flash card for quick projection to the class.

            Each student is responsible for not replicating material presented earlier

Order of student presentation: random…pick a numbered card from a pack of cards at the

front of the classroom when you come to class.        

Points assigned determined on quality/creativity of presentation (clarity, understanding/explanation, thoughtful musing, extension/elaboration) and non                           overlap.  Points for each presentation:  0-3


Portfolio Project: Wednesdays

Each of you will announce to the class and turn in ONE printed primary literature paper that pertains to the assigned text material for the week.

The challenge:  the papers you turn in must contribute to a single/common theme.

Project:  At the end of the course, you will turn in your portfolio  It must contain:

            10/12 papers turned in during the semester

            Option: 1 additional paper not submitted in class.

             Identification of your botanical THEME

             Bibliography with a brief description of how each paper contributes to                               your botanical theme.

            5-6 pages providing scientific overview of your theme and the critical                                 contributions made by two (2) of your most pertinent papers.


EXAM: Fridays

4 exams:  in class or take home problems.  Given on FRI


Course requirements and grading scheme

Evaluation of your performance in this class will include both measurement of understanding of the material and processes that form the content of the course and the clarity, reasoning, and creativity of thought and presentation in written or oral form. 


A.    There will be 4 exams given at quarterly intervals, the fourth will be a 90min exam held on final exam day, (Dec 16 at 1:30 PM):  60 min will cover the last quarter of material and the 30 min to a comprehensive question.  In preparing for these exams, remember that an integrated comprehension of the nature of plants involves a continuous synthesis of information on a number of levels; material from the beginning of the course will form a foundation on which later knowledge will depend.


B.     Laser Round (see above)


C.     Portfolio Project (see above and syllabus for due dates)


D.    Class attendance and participation are a critical part of your responsibility in this course, and will be included in determining your grade in the course (see below).  To participate intelligently in class, it is essential that you read and thoughtfuly consider the assigned material before each class.  You may be asked to complete occasional homework assignments or take a quiz.


Quarterly exams (3)                                        30%

Last quarter exam                                           15%

Portfolio project                                              25%

Laser Round                                                   10%

Quizzes and homework                                   5%

Attendance, class participation, attitude,       5%



Advice on how to do well in this course


Plan 3 hrs of time in your weekly schedule to dedicate to the study of botany for each hour of class.  Start now and keep to your schedule.

Complete the assigned reading BEFORE coming to class. A second reading of the material after class is encouraged.

Actively answer the review questions at the end of each chapter in the textbook (don’t just  read the questions).

Use the online text supplementary materials:  web exercises, animated flashcards, botany and beyond.

Attend every class. Ask questions. Participate in class discussion.

Turn in all assignments on time.

Ask for help when you need it.


Academic honesty

I strongly encourage you to exchange information, discuss class material, and bounce ideas off of one another (and me).  However, all work submitted for evaluation must be your own, unless part of a group project. In the case of group projects, you will be required to explicitly report on the contributions of each group member.  Please review the College policy on academic honesty.  If you have questions or are unsure, please ask!



The college will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Students should notify the Coordinator for Students with Disabilities, Erin Salva, located in the Office of Academic Advising and their instructors of any special needs. Instructors should be notified sometime during the first two weeks of class.




Course Outline

** This schedule may be altered during the semester. **








Ch 1

National issues in plant biology?


Plant cellular structures, aspects of cell division, and plant specific molecules

Ch 2-4,  for review:  Ch 15 (pp. 433-456)


Plant tissues/plant body

Ch 5 (pp.114 –124);

Primary lit due





Primary growth/development




Ch 5 (P 125-)

Primary lit due







Ch 12 (pp.341–352, 357-367)



Ch 12 (pp. 351-356)

Primary lit due



Exam 1



Ch 6




Primary lit due


Pollan Ch. 1




Ch 10

meet with me during wk: Primary lit proj.



Primary lit due






Ch 7



Ch 13

Primary lit due


Reading Day




Secondary growth

Ch 8

Portfolio Topic proposal due


Exam 2






Reproduction & flowers

Ch 9.

 Ch 16 for review



Pollan: Ch 3

Primary lit due





Growth regulation

Ch 14




Primary lit due


Ch 17 for reveiw




Ch 18

Portfolio consult


(Ch 19) optional


Ch  21 (617-644)


Non-vascular plants

Ch 22




Primary lit due

Seedless vascular plants

Ch 23

Exam 3



Pollan: Ch 4



Ch 24

Primary lit due





Thanksgiving Break






Ch 25




Primary lit due





Applied plant biology

Ch 15 (pp. 457-459)

Portfolio Project due








1:30 pm


Exam  4:  90 min