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Secondary Metabolites in Plant Resistance and Pathogen Virulence

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POSTPONED - NOVA PhD course of 5 ECTS, organised by Prof. Jari Valkonen, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.
Course dates and location: May, 2021, in Mikkeli, Finland.

POSTPONED - This is the fourth course in the NOVA PhD course series "Plant Pathology with a Nordic Dimension", which is scheduled for 2017-2020. The series consist of four courses, each within different disciplines in plant pathology.

Each course includes definitions, terms, concepts and theories within the plant pathology disciplines reflected in the course title. Two main themes will be the core of each course schedule. Cases with special relevance for the Nordic zone will have highest priority. Understanding plant pathogen interactions and biocontrol at the molecular level will be prioritised embracing genomics, transcriptome and gene expression studies. Importance of toxic secondary metabolites in the virulence of fungal and bacterial pathogens and in the defence of plants against the various pathogens including viruses will be highlighted. Also the secondary metabolites produced by biocontrol organisms and fungal mycotoxins harmful for humans will be addressed by the Nordic teachers.

Pre-/Post-Campus Assignments
A journal club will be running weekly for 3 months discussing papers suggested by teachers. Students prepare either a poster or an oral presentation.

Learning Outcomes
The student will:

  • obtain knowledge of definitions, theories and concepts within the pathology disciplines addressed in the course series
  • obtain basic skills of genomics/bioinformatics methods used in advanced plant pathology and knowledge about strategies for integrated pest management (IPM)
  • obtain specific competences in
    • course 4: Virulence and biocontrol mechanisms and host defence
  • Skills in presenting scientific subjects is another learning outcome of the courses

Evaluation Elements
Evaluation will be based on participation in the journal club and student presentations at the course. Evaluation will also include active participation in group discussions, activity at lectures and at other discussion sessions at the course.

Pedagogical Approach
Several forms of teaching are used, including lectures, literature discussion sessions and computer exercises. The students acquire facts by reading relevant literature during the journal club and through lectures. These facts are then processed during computer exercises and during discussion sessions. Discussion sessions provide opportunities for students with different backgrounds to learn from each other.

Estimated Workload
Estimated work load in total 150 hours including the 5 days at the course.

  • Journal Club for preparing before the course: 10 weeks each with an estimated work load of 8 hours = 80 hours (include reading suggested papers and discussing the papers with other students and local teachers - discussions via internet will organized for students not localized close to other students).
  • Preparing posters and oral presentations before the course: 30 hours.
  • Work load at the 5 day course: 40 hours: will be a mix of lectures, group discussions, Students presentation of own posters and student oral presentations plus an excursion. Programs will also be organized as evening sessions: plenum and group discussions.

Prerequisite Knowledge
A prerequisite is that the students have an MSc within natural sciences. MSc students can be accepted to attend.

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 (will be updated later).

Apply here

Please apply to: Minna Pirhonen, Assoc. Professor, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry (HU-AF) -
Application deadline Friday 13 March 2020


  • NOVA/BOVA students: meals and accommodation 6 nights in double room: ca. €190 (May be subject to change due to varying exchange rate. Please note that for maximum 25 NOVA and BOVA students, NOVA will cover €150 of meal expenses per person.)

Other participants: meals and accommodation 6 nights in double room ca. €340

Published 14. November 2019 - 15:40 - Updated 27. April 2020 - 15:05