Spring 2024 - BISC 457 D100

Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (3)

Class Number: 4517

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Mon, Wed, Fri, 11:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 20, 2024
    Sat, 7:00–10:00 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    BISC 202, MBB 222, and MBB 231, all with a minimum grade of C-.



An introduction to plant molecular biology and the techniques, applications and issues of plant genetic engineering.


The green revolution initiated in the 1960’s staved of starvation for hundred of millions of people and continues to this day to produce the food needed to feed the human population. A cornerstone of the green revolution was new wheat, rice and maize varieties generated by large-scale screens for beneficial natural variants and the combination of them by breeders that understood quantitative Mendelian genetics. While the rate of world population growth is slowing down, the food demand continues to increase, and there is a dire need for a second green revolution to avoid massive food insecurity in the coming decades. Transgene technology failed to deliver, not because it didn’t provide plant improvement or was unsafe, but because of fear and over regulation. Nevertheless, we have learned much about plant gene functions, including the genes containing the green revolution variants, and how they are conserved across plant families. With the advent of CRISPR technology, a second green revolution is indeed underway, allowing precise alteration of gene functions, often to mimic the variants of the first green revolution in locally adapted crops, increasing not just yields but also sustainable production. This knowledge-based approach is also used to meet the demand for new varieties that are adapted to climate change, such as drought and heat tolerance.

This course aims at providing an overview of the field and an introduction to the tools and questions that are providing work and research opportunities in it. 


  • Work sheets and computer exercises 25%
  • Tutorial presentation 15%
  • Midterm Exam 25%
  • Final Exam 35%



Published reviews and primary research papers provided as pdf files.

Show-and-tell material from ongoing experiments, tissue cultures and generated plants.


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Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.