Course Title: Molecular Approaches to Plant Breeding

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Molecular Approaches to Plant Breeding

Credit Points: 24.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2009,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2012

Course Coordinator: A/Prof Eddie Pang

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 7137

Course Coordinator Email: eddie

Course Coordinator Location: 223.01.70A

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Tertiary-level genetics

Course Description

This course aims firstly to familiarise the student with the new molecular techniques which are currently used to enhance conventional plant breeding and secondly, to introduce the student to a few of the emerging technologies which are likely to have significant impact on agriculture in the near future. The lecture series will include topics in the areas of plant transformation, the use of molecular markers (marker-assisted selection and marker-assisted backcrossing), genome mapping, and molecular assessment of germplasm diversity. Practicals will be conducted on plant transformation, PCR techniques and the use of several computer packages for genome mapping and bioinformatics

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

On successful completion of the course, students should be able to:
List and discuss the uses of biotechnology of plants in agriculture, apply plant transformation, and molecular plant breeding in the laboratory. Use molecular and classical techniques, including tissue culture to create and test new genotypes and phenotypes. Understand the ethics of applying biotechnology strategies to plant improvement and agriculture.

Students will be able to competently discuss the recent technologies which enhance traditional plant breeding, and will be able to competently perform procedures such as PCR, plant transformation, and utilise software pertaining to linkage mapping and biodiversity analysis. Further, they will be able to work independently to research a topic of interest, and subsequently be able to communicate the information via a poster and seminar.

Overview of Learning Activities

The learning activities included in this course are:
• attendance at lectures where syllabus material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples;
• completion of tutorial questions and laboratory projects designed to give further practice in the application of theory and procedures, and to give feedback on student progress and understanding;
• completion of written assignments consisting of numerical and other problems requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter; and
• private study, working through the course as presented in classes and learning materials, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems.

Overview of Learning Resources

Students will be provided with lists of relevant texts, library resources (Including appropriate journals) and freely accessible Internet sites. Other material will be provided in class. Students will be able to access course information and learning material through the Learning Hub (also known as online@RMIT).

The recommended text is:
Chrstou, P., and Klee, H. (Eds) (2004). Handbook of Pant Biotechnology, Volume 1. Wiley, England.
Collard, BCY et al. (2005). An introduction to markers, quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping and marker-assisted selection for crop
improvement: The basic concepts. Euthytica 142:169-196.
Kearsey, M.J and Pooni H.S. (1996). The genetical analysis of quantitative traits.Chapman & Hall, London.

Overview of Assessment


The assessment for this course comprises several tasks including end of semester theory examination (50%), and tests during semester (10%). Laboratory reports will be assessed (25%) and students will be expected to produce a poster and seminar on a defined topic (15% total).