This unit explores the impacts of microbes on plant productivity, food security and the management of natural environments. The lecture component discusses how microbes interact with plants at the ecosystem, whole plant, cellular and molecular levels, conditioning nutrient availability and acquisition, growth, yield, quality and environmental responses. The biology and epidemiology of plant-associated microbes, infection processes, colonisation strategies, plant responses and breeding for disease resistance will be discussed. The practical component introduces techniques used in handling, measuring and identifying plant-associated fungi and bacteria, diagnosis of plant disease and investigations of plant-microbe interactions, and develops skills in enquiry and problem solving through experimental design, execution and interpretation of data. Students learn to work in a research team, plan effective work schedules, work safely in a research laboratory with a range of scientific equipment, keep appropriate records, and use statistical analysis and simulations in research. The unit is core to the BScAgr degree and is available as an elective to BEnvSys and BSc students.
26 one-hour lectures and 12 three-hour practical classes
Take-home quizzes (20%), project report (10%), practical exam (20%), end of semester exam (50%)
Schumann GL and Darcy CJ 2010. Essential Plant Pathology (2nd ed.). APS Press, St Paul, Minn., USA
6 credit points of Microbiology units