Agricultural Plant-Microbe Interactions (AGCH3400)


Can we effectively harness the potential of plant-growth promoting microorganisms to reduce dependence on chemical inputs and enhance sustainable agricultural crop production? This unit of study is designed to introduce students to important interactions between plants and microorganisms that are fundamental to nutrient cycling, nutrient-use efficiency and sustainability of resources and the environment. Disciplinary areas of study include agricultural chemistry, microbiology, plant physiology and molecular biology and will build on theoretical knowledge gained in MICR2024 and PLNT2001. There is a particular focus on beneficial plant-growth promoting microorganisms that are increasingly exploited as crop inoculants to improve soil health and reduce dependence on chemical fertilizers. This unit explores current research on beneficial plant-microbe interactions and provides a theoretical framework with which to evaluate their positive contribution to plant cultivation systems and the environment. Mechanisms of plant-growth promotion studied will include biological nitrogen fixation, nutrient (P, S, Fe) mobilization, phytohormone production and biocontrol. The unit intends to highlight the necessarily close connection between science and industry in order to realize the full potential of benefits from inoculation. In this regard, issues relating to inoculant production, quality control and application will be explored. Students will interact with inoculant industry personnel and some opportunities for work experience will be available. The unit will provide students with technical skills of value to the microbial inoculant and related industries as well as developing relevant research skills to enable participation in the rapidly evolving program of research on microbial inoculants.

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Further unit of study information


2 x 1hr lecture pw, 1 x 3 hr practical pw


2 x Practical reports (2x25%), 2 x Essays (2x20%), 1 x Oral presentation (10%)


A reading list will be provided consisting of journal articles, book chapters and selected text books.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Prerequisites and assumed knowledge

Prerequisite: Assumed knowledge: General microbiology, chemistry, agricultural chemistry or biochemistry, MICR2024, PLNT2001

Prerequisite: Assumed knowledge: General microbiology, chemistry, agricultural chemistry or biochemistry

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Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.

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