Course code BIO327

BIO327 From gene to function in plants

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2022 - 2023 .

Course responsible: Rómulo Sacramento Sobral, Åshild Gunilla Ergon
Teachers: Åshild Gunilla Ergon
ECTS credits: 10
Faculty: Faculty of Biosciences
Teaching language: EN
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
20 maximum students
Teaching exam periods:
Autumn parallel
Course frequency: Annually
First time: Study year 2022-2023
Preferential right:
Course contents:
Research is currently in a situation where many candidate genes for various traits have been identified, but the ability to understand and describe their functional role is still limited to the knowhow of available techniques. To circumvent this, the BIO327 course proposes to give students an overview of the bioinformatic and laboratorial techniques that are necessary to integrate knowledge in plant molecular and whole-plant biology, and that can be employed to unravel gene function. The course will be divided into weekly lectures and practical sessions that will include the execution of at least four laboratory protocols. Lectures will be divided into two blocks, a block where the course responsible will describe the most important techniques that are being used to validate gene function and a second block in which invited speakers will describe their work emphasising the idea of how gene function validation is currently being used in plant studies.
Learning outcome:


  • Students will be acquainted with the major types of regulatory mechanisms in plants from epigenetic up to post-translational regulation.
  • Students will be familiarized with key regulators involved in plant function highlighting the different levels of regulation these regulators are subjected to (chromatin structure, miRNAs and transcription factors)
  • Students will understand the rationale behind different laboratory techniques and bioinformatic analyses that can be used to describe gene function, such as comparative genomics, forward and reverse genetics, mutant analysis (knock out, knock in) and genotyping, immunolabelling, protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions, expression analysis (qRT-PCR or gene reporter assays) or transient and permanent plant transformation.


  • Students will have practical experience in various techniques within plant molecular biology and their importance in biological research
  • Students will be able to design a strategy to unravel the gene function of a candidate gene for a specific trait
  • Students will be capable to integrate data obtained from distinct sources to make inferences about gene function, e.g. experiments at molecular, cell, tissue or whole plant level, quantitative/population genetic analyses, and different types of -omics.

General competence

  • A high level of understanding of plant gene functions and how to apply them
Learning activities:
Lectures and guest lectures (20h) and 5 practical sessions (1 bioinformatic and 4 lab sessions, 4h each).
Teaching support:
Bibliographic will be made available as the course develops, in the form of book chapters and review articles
BIO200, BOT200, BIO244
Recommended prerequisites:
An understanding of DNA structure and general regulation is helpful, and so are the concepts of hypothesis testing.
Mandatory activity:
Lab sessions are mandatory

Combined assessment.

Written exam during the exam period (multiple choice and descriptive answers) - 2 hours

Lab report, that will include all practical sessions counts 25% of the final grade.

A written and presented assay counts 25% of the final grade

Active participation during lectures counts 10% of the final grade

Written exam counts 40% of the final grade

Nominal workload:
250 hours.
Entrance requirements:
Special requirements in Science
Reduction of credits:
Type of course:

15 h - lectures

5 h - guest lectures

20h - practical sessions

10 h - presentations (20 min + 10 min discussion)

2 h - exam

The sensor will approve the exam questions and assist in the assessments
Examination details: Combined assessment: Letter grades