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Eco-Physiology and Plant Interactions


Eco-Physiology and Plant Interactions

Paula Duque
Tiago Filipe dos Santos

The overall goal of this curricular unit (CU) is to review and integrate the current knowledge on the physiological processes underlying the complex interactions between terrestrial plants and their environment. In particular, the course provides an overview of the functional responses influencing the growth, survival, adaptation and evolution of plants in their environmental context. The mechanisms governing these fundamental responses are examined at various levels, from the molecular and biochemical aspects to the functioning of the intact plant. Particular emphasis is placed on the impact of different biotic or abiotic factors and on the plant processes taking place during the immediate response, acclimation, and adaptation to stress.

Students are expected to develop a critical understanding of the key physiological processes affecting plant growth and development in the natural environment and acquire basic skills in plant experimental research.

The contents of this CU will be conveyed integrating the acquired knowledge into practical aspects of research. The CU will be organized in three main topics that aim at addressing basic concepts of plant eco-physiology and the interaction of plants with stress (abiotic and biotic).

I.   Basic concepts in plant eco-physiology and plant-environment interactions

• Carbon, nutrient and water balances

• Plant production and stress

• Methods in plant ecophysiology

II.   Abiotic interactions

• Water stress (e.g. water deficit, salinity)

• Temperature stress (e.g. freezing, high temperature)

• Light stress (e.g. photoinhibition and photooxidation)

• Pollution agents (e.g. ozone, heavy metals)

• Stress evaluation and screening for tolerance

III. Biotic interactions

• Beneficial interactions (mycorrhiza, nodulating bacteria)

• Biotic stress (e.g. pests and diseases)

• Host-parasite interactions

• Stress evaluation and screening for resistance

Evaluation will be based on the interest and participation shown by the student. Moreover, the tutorials will evaluate whether the student understood the concepts and was able to explore and analyse/solve scientific questions.

Main Bibliography

  1. Fundamentals of Plant Physiology (Sinauer Series) by Lincoln Taiz, Eduardo Zeiger, Ian Max Møller, Angus Murphy (1st Edition) Oxford University Press (2018)
  2. Plant Physiological Ecology by Lambers and Oliveira (3rd Edition), Springer (2019)
  3. Signal Crosstalk in Plant Stress Responses by Keiko Yoshioka and Kazuo Shinozaki (1st Edition), Wiley-Blackwell (2009)
  4. Plant Responses to Abiotic Stress by Heribert Hirt and Kazuo Shinozaki, Springer (2004)
  5. Terrestrial Photosynthesis in a Changing Environment: A Molecular, Physiological, and Ecological Approach by Jaume Flexas, Francesco Loreto, Hipolito Medrano, Cambridge University Press (2012)



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