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The University of Southampton

BIOL3051 Applied Plant Biology

Module Overview

This module provides a broad introduction to the applied use of plants in the modern world. The module will cover the production of transgenic (GM) plants and their applications in a variety of areas including medical biotechnology, nutrition, phytoremediation and biofortification. The use and potential improvement of plant biomass for biofuels will be covered. A further aspect of the module will look at the development of plants and plant culture systems for future use in supporting long term space exploration and colonisation.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand and describe how plants are being utilised in the modern world in a wide range of applications
  • Understand plant transformation technologies.
  • Recognise the potential bioethical issues associated with transgenic approaches and ways to reduce these problems
  • Understand how plants can be modified to improve nutritional benefits and long term storage
  • Describe applications of plant biotechnology to generate novel products such as vaccines and antibodies
  • Understand the strategies behind biofortification.
  • Describe the use of plants in phytoremediation and bioremediation.
  • Be able to discuss the biotechnological approaches being adopted to improve plants used as raw materials for biofuel production.
  • Understand the potential for developing artificial plant based ecosystems for use during space exploration.


The module provides a broad outline of the applications of plant biotechnology in the modern world. Where possible, general principles are developed alongside specific examples rather than giving exhaustive lists of detailed information. Plants are increasingly being utilised in a wide range of biotechnological applications. The cornerstone of utilising plants in biotechnology has been the ongoing development and improvement in generating transgenics (GM plants) in a range of species. The methods and principles in making transgenic plants will be covered in the module as well as looking at more traditional breeding strategies. The use of transgenic plants in medical applications, phyto- and bioremediation and biofortification will be covered. The current pressure to increase the generation of energy from sources of renewable plant material has made this a highly topical area. The biotechnological approaches being utilised to improve crops providing the raw materials as well as the methods to produce the biofuels will be covered. Planned future space exploration and potential colonisation of space will require sustainable plant based artificial ecosystems to be developed and as a result this is becoming an area of increasing interest.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, seminars, individual assignments and independent study.

Independent Study128
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

M.J. Chrispeels and D.E. Sadava?(2003).?Plant genes and Crop Biotechnology.?



MethodPercentage contribution
Written exam? (2 hours) 75%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written exam? (2 hours) 100%
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