Article banner region

Wood Biology and Biotechnology

  • Photo: 

NOVA PhD course of 3 ECTS, organised by Prof. Ewa Mellerowicz, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
Course dates and location: 30 Oct. - 3 Nov. 2017, in Umeaa, Sweden.

Course Description
Development of novel wood-based products requires an understanding of the biological processes that lead to wood cell differentiation including cell division, expansion, secondary cell wall formation and programmed cell death. One-week intensive PhD course provides an overview of these processes, as well as wood organization, chemistry and structure in conifers and hardwoods, from the molecular level to the tissue organization level, followed by an update on molecular, genetic and physiological aspects of wood cell differentiation and cell wall formation. Lectures and seminars are given by experts in the field. Current tools for studying wood biology, structure and chemical composition are introduced with practical demonstrations.

The course is focused on biological processes leading to wood formation. It will include lectures and seminars covering the wood cellular organization and chemical composition, molecular and hormonal control of wood development, biosynthesis of wood cell walls, the overview of different methods of wood cell and cell wall analysis, model systems and bioinformatics resources to study wood biology. Practical demonstrations of current state-of-the art methods for analysis of wood, and hands-on experience with bioinformatics tools available and with wood microscopy will be included.

Programme Outline

  • Monday: Introduction to wood structure and ultrastructure, microscopy techniques to study wood, practicum in wood anatomy, poster and social activities
  • Tuesday: Molecular and hormonal control of wood development, model systems to study wood, demonstration of xylogenic cell suspensions;
  • Wednesday: Wood cell wall biosynthesis, social activities and poster presentations related to wood cell walls
  • Thursday: Techniques to study wood and wood formation.
  • Friday: Biotechnology of wood from a leading biotech company. Final social activities.

Pre-/Post-Campus Assignments
The students will receive literature to read before or after the course, and should bring a poster related to their PhD project.

Learning Outcomes


  • Understanding how the wood tissue is formed
  • Understanding the cell wall chemical composition and organization in xylem cells
  • Understanding the molecular and hormonal regulation of xylogenesis
  • Understanding the principles of biosynthesis of main cell wall components
  • Knowledge about the wood and cell wall analysis technologies


  • Be able to design a program for functional studies of genes involved in wood formation
  • Be able to identify different anatomical features of wood
  • Be able to use bioinformatics resources for wood biology studies.


  • Be able to evaluate feasibility of different biotechnological manipulations of wood for different end-uses
  • Be able to suggest approaches to reach biotechnological goals.

Evaluation Elements
Open book written exam

Pedagogical Approach
The course includes mostly lectures, practical activities, and science discussion at the poster session. There will be also demonstrations of techniques, and seminars.

Estimated Workload

  • 2 hours seminar
  • 23 hours lecture
  • 5 hours practicum
  • 60 hours independent work
  • 2.5 hours demonstrations
  • 9 hours social activities and poster sessions

Prerequisite Knowledge
The knowledge of biology and biochemistry or microbiology at the bachelor level is required, for example, 60 ECTS in Biology including 7.5 ECTS in Cell biology and 15 ECTS Chemistry, or the equivalent.

Admission for NOVA courses is handled by the course organiser/ the NOVA member institution organising the course. Please see the links in the margin for more information.

Apply here

Published 13. December 2016 - 14:14 - Updated 23. May 2017 - 19:10