APS 228 Environmental Biology Practicals

Level 2
Semester 2B
Credits 10
Pre/Co Requisites APS135 and APS 240
Recommended Requistes -
Teaching Staff Dr Christian Voigt
Co-ordinator Dr Christian Voigt
Restrictions Not available to Zoology students


The aim of these practicals is to investigate how pea plants adapt to growth in environments of altered nutrient and/or light supply. Characteristics of photosynthesis, carbon partitioning and plant growth in pea plants will be measured that are intended to address the following questions: How is the allocation of photosynthate (to starch and sucrose) changed? How do leaf structure, protein content and type, and light absorbing pigments change? How is growth affected?

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, a candidate will be able to:

  • Work as part of a team on set tasks.
  • Maintain accurate records of laboratory experiments.
  • Understand the principles of plant growth analysis, measurement of leaf area and determination of relative growth rate.
  • Extract plant material for the assay of carbohydrates, proteins and chlorophyll.
  • Determine the amount of key carbohydrates in plants by using a spectrophotometric assay to measure, and calculate, the amount of sucrose and hexoses in a plant extract.
  • Measure protein in plant extracts using a spectrophotometric method with reference to a standard curve.
  • Assess the complete set of data produced at the end of the practicals and interpret how a combination of light regime and nitrogen nutrition affect selected aspects of plant growth, development, physiology and metabolism.


These six practicals will examine various aspects of plant growth and development. You will work in small groups to design, set up and execute an investigation of aspects such as growth analysis, enzyme assay, carbohydrate and protein content of plants (using gel electrophoresis), for example in plants grown under different light intensities and different nutrient regimes. The practical write-up will be preceded by a group discussion of the interpretation of the results obtained by the whole class. Each group will formally present their data to the rest of the class, with feedback given by peers and staff before the practical write up is completed.

Delivery Method: 6 x 3 hour practical classes, with an extra session for presentations

Assessment Method: Submission of practical report and laboratory notebook for practical classes.

Feedback: Students will receive feedback via discussion sessions, following their presentations and during a general write-up preparation session followed by feedback in lab books.

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