APS137 How Plants Work: Physiology, Reproduction and Development

Level 1
Semester 2A
Credits 10
Teaching Staff Professor Andrew Fleming, Dr Christian Voigt
Co-ordinator Professor Andrew Fleming


Plants are essential to life on Earth. They have shaped the planet to create an atmosphere suitable for oxygen-requiring organisms (us!) and ultimately provide essentially all of the food that living things (us!) need to survive. They give us shelter and medicine and clothes to wear, and are central to any attempt to understand and counter climate change.

Fungi represent a third great kingdom of life on the planet. They are an incredibly diverse and successful group of eukaryotes which have evolved unique strategies to survive and grow. They are central to our own survival through their role in recycling nitrogen and carbon at a global scale. At the same time, some fungi are major sources of disease, limiting food supply across the globe. Anyone interested in biology, how the planet functions as a system, or is just curious about the amazing diversity of living things needs to know about fungi.

In this introductory course, you will learn the fundamentals of how plants and fungi are made and how they work- their physiology, reproduction and growth. No previous knowledge beyond standard A-level (or equivalent) is required, rather an open mind to delve deeper in fundamental facets of biology. The course will encompass elements of structure and function at the cell/organ/organism level, as well as introducing the basics of molecular biology, and biochemistry needed to understand how living things work The course will deliberately avoid extensive “naming of parts”, but will focus rather on identifying unifying themes and concepts, highlighting those which unify plants, animals and fungi, and those which are unique to these two major kingdoms upon which are own lives and futures depend

Aims and Objectives

This unit aims to introduce students to the essential and unifying concepts of physiology, reproduction, development and growth in plants and fungi, which are central to modern biology.

By the end of this unit, a student will be able to: (i) explain the processes of photosynthesis in plants, (ii) describe the acquisition and transport of water and nutrients in plants; (iii) indicate the various nutritional modes of fungi (iv) outline the processes of plant and fungal reproduction; (v) describe the essential processes of plant and fungal morphogenesis and differentiation; (vi) describe some of the symbiotic and other interactions that occur between plants and fungi. (vii) understand key concepts from the scientific literature.

Delivery Method: Lectures and Practicals

Assessment Method: 2 hour, multiple-choice examination (70 questions).

Feedback: You will receive feedback via an online self assessment test and on request in the practical sessions.

For more information on APS137 please go to Blackboard

Return to Level 1 Modules