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The Immune system of plants (seminar)


Admission requirements

Knowledge equivalent to 1st-year BSc courses Ecology and Biochemistry & Genetics


Plants defend themselves against pests and diseases with a so-called innate immune system, which is found in all multicellular organisms. Vertebrates have acquired in addition the so-called adaptive immune system, which depends on antibodies. Innate immunity has evolved in plants, resulting in a wide diversity of defense mechanisms adapted to specific threats (including herbivores and pathogens). The seminar will deal with the different defense mechanisms, their biochemical and molecular genetic mode of action, their efficiency and durability, their physiological and ecological costs for the plant, their evolution, heritability and plasticity, as well as with research topics and applications that use functional genomics, metabolomics and genetic modification.

Learning goals

Course objectives:
The objectives are to get familiar with the plant immune system by practicing reading primary scientific literature, discussing scientific articles, orally presenting a specific scientific topic, and writing a critical review about a specific topic.

Final qualifications:
Participants are familiar with critically reading scientific papers published in top journals. They are able to ask critical questions. They have experience in making a powerpoint presentation about a scientific topic, in orally presenting it, and in answering questions about that topic. They have an understanding of the state-of-the-art knowledge about the mechanisms governing plant immunity and of the main concepts current in the research field.


Sessions are once a week from 01-04-2012 to 30-06-2012, in principle on Wednesdays from 16.30 to 17.00.

Mode of instruction

Reading selection of original research papers. Oral presentation of one of the topics. Emphasis is on critical reading, discussion and oral presentations by the participants.

Assessment method

Oral presentation, discussion and, depending on participant number, a short written report.


Blackboard is used for communication and course material.

Reading list

Research papers will be posted on blackboard at the start of the course.



E-mail to coordinator

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.

Contact information

Prof. dr. J. Memelink,


Minimum 6, maximum around 15 participants