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Plants in Action is a core unit for BSc students interested in specializing in plant science. The unit explores the interaction of plants with the environment at the organism, organ, tissue and cellular levels. We examine the processes of photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, mineral uptake and translocation, and adaptations that enable plants to occupy diverse environments. We also examine the processes controlling plant development (germination, reproductive phase change, dormancy and senescence). The practical component is a combination of experimental work and observation of plant structure, and includes a 2-day excursion to examine plant adaptations in different vegetation types on the East Coast of Tasmania.

Theoretical topics include:

  • Plant Physiology from molecular to environmental
    • Nutrients - essential elements and toxicity
    • Biological nitrogen fixation
    • Plant water relations
    • Membranes and molecules
    • Photosynthesis - the basic process underpinning plant existence. CO2 assimilation, RUBISCO and the Calvin cycle
    • Photosynthesis - Chloroplast structure, pigments and light harvesting and distribution, PSII and PSI distribution
    • Respiration and the Krebs cycle
  • Plant development and the environment
    • Seed dormancy and germination
    • Seedling growth
    • Growth in response to the environment
    • Phase change - vegetative & reproductive
    • Dormancy & Senescence

Practical skills include:

  • Microscopy skills, specimen preparation, observational skills, drawing skills
  • Experimental design, interpretation of data, analysis, scientific communication skills (report writing)
  • Field identification skills

Summary 2021

Unit name Plants in Action
Unit code KPA214
Credit points 12.5
Faculty/School College of Sciences and Engineering
School of Natural Sciences
Discipline Plant Science
Teaching staff

Dr RJE Wiltshire (Unit Coordinator), Assoc Prof MJ Hovenden

Level Intermediate
Available as student elective? Yes
Breadth Unit? No



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About Census Dates




  • KPA161


Teaching Pattern

2 lectures and 3 hrs practical weekly (13 wks)


see KPA215

TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



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