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This subject examines the critical roles that plants play in life on earth. It explores how plants capture energy and carbon in the biosphere and influence the atmosphere; absorb almost all mineral nutrients that enter our ecosystem and underpin the nutrition and food supply of animals and people; have a major effect on hydrology and climate due to their water use; and produce a wealth of products ranging from food on our plates to fuel for our cars. Weekly practicals allow hand-on experience with plants and involve experiments with light, gravity, nutrients and additional factors that affect plant growth. Topics covered include:
- Carbon and energy: gas exchange and atmosphere, plant productivity, carbon crediting, climate change, artificial environments;
- Water: uptake and loss, plants and the hydrological cycle, coping with drought, salinity and temperature extremes;
- Nutrition: essential elements, metabolic requirements, plants as part of the global nutrition cycle, biofortification to produce nutrient-enriched food;
- Renewable energy: biohydrogen, biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel, future directions for the biofuel industry.
Intended learning outcomes
The objectives of this subject are to:
- introduce plant structure and function in relation to the physical environment;
- demonstrate how a fundamental knowledge of plant structure and function is critical to understanding major global processes such as climate change, hydrology and agriculture;
- understand how plants adapt to natural environments and how they can be modified to survive in new environments and/or provide new products;
- increase awareness of environmental issue that affect plants in Australia;
- provide skills in laboratory-based experimental plant science.
At the completion of the subject students should have:
- knowledge of plant structure and function in relation to the physical environment;
- knowledge of how plants can be used to solve environmental problems;
- knowledge of environmental issues that affect plant function in Australia; and
- skills in laboratory-based experimental plant science.
Last updated: 22 July 2021