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Plant biotechnology and molecular breeding, 15 Credits

Swedish name: Växtbioteknik och molekylär förädling

This syllabus is valid: 2019-03-11 and until further notice

Course code: 5BI213

Credit points: 15

Education level: Second cycle

Main Field of Study and progress level: Molecular Biology: Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements

Grading scale: TH teknisk betygsskala

Responsible department: Department of Plant Physiology

Established by: Faculty Board of Science and Technology, 2019-03-13


The course aims to provide knowledge on biotechnological applications in agriculture and forestry as well as how modern molecular biological methods can be used in plant breeding. The theory module deals with 1. the genetic transformation of plants with Agrobacterium system but also with other techniques and tissue culture propagation. Specific problems regarding e.g. grasses and trees are also discussed, and the laboratory sections illustrate the transformation and tissue culture of plants. 2. how plants but also to some extent bacteria can be utilized as production systems for example, chemicals, fuel, drugs and antibodies, as well as how plants can be genetically modified to have an altered nutrient content (e.g. Golden rice) or to become more resistant to stress. Practical exercises are also included here. 3. synthetic biology and gene editing methods e.g. CRISPR/Cas9 as well as their applications in plant biotechnology. 4. social aspects of plant biotechnology, for example, legislation of GMO plants in Sweden and the EU, patent legislation, risk assessment and ethical aspects of GMO plants and similar substances.

The course is divided into three modules: theory (10.5 credits), laboratory exercises (1.5 credits), literature studies and seminarium presentation (3 credits)

Expected learning outcomes

After completing the course the students should be able to:
  • demonstrate an advanced knowledge and understanding of plant biotechnology and synthetic biology
  • discuss the organization of plant genomes and regulation of gene expression
  • demonstrate an understanding of the principles of tissue culture, plant transformation and vectors for transformation
  • explain how to find candidate genes in a process and evaluate them in terms of their function
  • apply knowledge of how plants can act as bioreactors and describe principles for biological production of fuels, such as ethanol and hydrogen
  • understand the principles of gene editing methods and their applications
  • assess and critically interpret original literature as well as primary research results in plant biotechnology
  • demonstrate deeper methodological knowledge in plant biotechnology research and development
  • demonstrate skills in both oral and written scientific communication in English
  • discuss the social aspects of plant biotechnology, interpret the laws regulating GMOs and their application

Required Knowledge

90 ECTS credits, of which at least 15 ECTS credits are in the main area of chemistry and 60 ECTS credits in the main area of biology where at least 30 ECTS credits should be in plant biology and cell- and molecular biology. Swedish for basic eligibility for higher education programmes and English B/6. Requirements for Swedish only apply if the course is held in Swedish.

Form of instruction

The course includes lectures, guest lectures, group discussions, literature discussions, and laboratory exercises. Part of the course is devoted to a case study in plant biotechnology where the student compiles a report that corrected and assessed by teachers and presented orally.

Examination modes

To pass the course student has to participate in group discussions, seminars, and laboratory work, and all laboratory reports have been approved. Students who have failed, have the right to undergo a renewed examination to obtain an approved grade. Furthermore, students who have failed twice in a test for a certain course or part of the course have the right to request from the head of department of the Department of Plant Physiology that another teacher be appointed to determine the grade for a renewed examination. Student who has been approved in a test cannot retake the test for a higher grade. 

Module 1 (Theory): is examined in the form of a written exam. Students who have failed have the right to undergo a renewed examination to obtain an approved grade. Grades given are Fail (U), Pass (G) or Pass with Distinction (VG), or U, 3, 4 or 5.

Module 2 (Laboratory): examined through participation in the experimental parts and by assessment of written reports. Students who fail because of absence from compulsory parts are entitled to participate in the missed parts at a later course occasion. Grades given are Fail (U), Pass (G) or Pass with Distinction (VG), or U, 3, 4 or 5.

Module 3 (Literature): is examined through a presentation of a selected case study in plant biotechnology. Students who fail the presentation are entitled to re-examination after the course ends. Students who fail because of absence from this compulsory part are entitled to participate in the missed parts at later course occasion. Grades given are Fail (U), Pass (G) or Pass with Distinction (VG), or U, 3, 4 or 5.

The final grade for the entire course is decided when all the tests have been completed and the grades of all modules have been set. For the final grade Pass (G) or 3 on the whole course, at least grade (G) or 3 are required for all modules. For the grade Pass with Distinction (VG) on the entire course, Pass with Distinction (VG) grades are required on modules 1,2 and 3. A final grade 5 for the whole course requires grade 5 on part 1 and at least grade 4 on modules 2 and 3.

Deviations from the course syllabus examination form can be made for a student who has a decision on pedagogical support due to disability. Individual adaptation of the examination form should be considered based on the student's needs. The examination form is adapted within the framework of the expected syllabus of the course syllabus. At the request of the student, the course responsible teacher, in consultation with the examiner, must promptly decide on the adapted examination form. The decision must then be communicated to the student.

Other regulations

In the event that the syllabus ceases to apply or undergoes major changes, students are guaranteed at least three examinations (including the regular examination opportunity) according to the regulations in the syllabus that the student was originally registered on for a period of a maximum of two years from the time that the previous syllabus ceased to apply or that the course ended.


The literature list is not available through the web. Please contact the faculty.