Credits: 3

Terms Offered: Fall

Instructor: Cynthia Denbow

Prerequisites: BIOL 1106 or BIOL 2304, CHEM 1036 strongly suggested


Fundamental principles of plant physiology (photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, nutrition, translocation and development) will be integrated with: biotic (3504, plant pathogens, herbivores, parasitic plants, weeds) and abiotic (4504, water, nutrient, salinity temperature, light, mechanical and air pollutant stresses) environmental factors relative to their effects on plant physiological processes. Interaction of the abiotic and biotic environments as they influence the physiology of both natural and agricultural plants will be emphasized.

Students are required to design an independent project based on topics presented in the course and to carry out a field study which may include experiments, observations from sites in Virginia, and interviews of professionals such as scientists, forest rangers, business leaders, or golf course superintendents. They are expected to work in groups of 2 or 3, to create powerpoint presentations and research papers. The presentations will be given to the instructor and other students the last two weeks of class.

Lecture Topics:

  • Introductory information on soils
  • Plant and soil interactions
  • Nutrient uptake and stress
  • Symbiotic relationships - bacterial and fungal
  • Phytoremediation of heavy metals
  • Interactions between plants - competition and allelopathy
  • Parasitic plants
  • Invasive plants
  • Interactions between plants and animals - herbivory
  • Plant pathogens - overview
  • Plant pathogen interactions


  • Recommended Text: Plant Physiology (4th edition) Taiz and Zeiger eds - can be purchased at the University Bookstore, the Tech Bookstore or online at
  • Required Reading: Assigned selected reading materials from scientific journals - downloaded as pdf files from Scholar or directly from the VT Library