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BIO3318 Plant Microbe Interactions

Semester 2, 2019 External
Short Description: Plant Microbe Interactions
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Agric, Comp and Environ Sciences
Student contribution band : Band 2
ASCED code : 010999 - Biological Sciences not elsewh
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 27 June 2019


Examiner: John Dearnaley


Pre-requisite: BIO1101 or BIO1100


Plant-microbe interactions are a central feature of the life of plants and range from advantageous symbiotic associations through to pathogenic disease states. An understanding of these interactions is essential for both commercial plant production and native vegetation management. This course examines the defining features of the most critical associations and highlights their dynamic nature.


The principal groups of micro-organisms which interact with plants are surveyed, particularly the fungi. Symbiotic interactions (notably those with nitrogen fixing bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi), the role of endophytes and the significance of the rhizosphere are described. A major emphasis is placed on the nature of plant pathogenesis, the disease cycle and the genetics and physiology of plant disease resistance.

This course contains a highly recommended residential school for both external and on-campus students (non-attendance will mean the student misses both an element for assessment preparation and an element of assessment).


On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. integrate knowledge of the major taxonomic classes of eukaryotic microorganisms involved in plant-microbe interactions
  2. critically evaluate the principal factors underlying plant-microbe interactions and the importance of plant-microbe symbiotic relationships in the life of plants
  3. apply expertise in the principles of plant pathogenesis
  4. display competency in laboratory and glasshouse work related to the analysis of plant-associated micro-organisms
  5. report scientific information and research results in a clear, concise and rigorous manner.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Introduction to plant microbe associations: fungi 15.00
2. Introduction to plant microbe associations: bacteria 10.00
3. Introduction to plant microbe associations: viruses 10.00
4. Introduction to plant microbe associations: nematodes 10.00
5. Symbiotic and non-pathogenic associations 10.00
6. Plant pathology and the development of disease 25.00
7. Disease resistance 10.00
8. Disease diagnostics 5.00
9. Epidemiology and the environment 5.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Schumann GL & D'Arcy CJ 2010, Essential Plant Pathology, 2nd edn, American Phytopathological Society.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
Ownley BH & Trigiano RN 2016, Plant Pathology Concepts & Labroatory Exercises, 3rd edn, CRC Press.
Smith, SE & Read, DJ 2008, Mycorrhizal Symbiosis, Academic Press, London.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 58.00
Online Lectures 26.00
Private Study 57.00
Residential Schools 24.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
Assignment 1 100 20 16 Jul 2019 (see note 1)
Assignment 2 100 20 16 Jul 2019 (see note 2)
Online Quiz 100 20 16 Jul 2019 (see note 3)
Exam 100 40 End S2 (see note 4)

  1. Examiner to advise the date of assignment 1. This assessment is linked to residential school attendance.
  2. Examiner to advise the date of assignment 2. This assessment is linked to residential school attendance.
  3. Examiner to advise the date of the mid-semester online quiz.
  4. This will be a closed examination. The total working time for the examination is 2 hours. The examination date will be available via UConnect when the official examination timetable has been released.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. All students undertaking this course are highly recommended to attend the residential school as the residential school is linke to an assessment or an element of assessment preparation.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks or a grade of at least C-. Students do not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to be awarded a passing grade in this course. Refer to Statement 4 below for the requirements to receive a passing grade in this course.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must obtain at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course (i.e. the Primary Hurdle), and have satisfied the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised), i.e. the end of semester examination by achieving at least 40% of the marks available for that assessment item.

    Supplementary assessment may be offered where a student has undertaken all of the required summative assessment items and has passed the Primary Hurdle but failed to satisfy the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised), or has satisfied the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised) but failed to achieve a passing Final Grade by 5% or less of the total weighted marks.

    To be awarded a passing grade for a supplementary assessment item (if applicable), a student must achieve at least 50% of the available marks for the supplementary assessment item as per the Assessment Procedure (point

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    In a Closed Examination, candidates are allowed to bring only writing and drawing instruments into the examination.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. Harvard (AGPS) is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use Harvard (AGPS) style in their thesis to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide.

  2. As part of the highly recommended residential school, students may be expected to complete a combination of laboratories, practical classes and assessment as advised by the course examiner.

Evaluation and benchmarking

In meeting the University’s aims to establish quality learning and teaching for all programs, this course monitors and ensures quality assurance and improvements in at least two ways. This course:
1. conforms to the USQ Policy on Evaluation of Teaching, Courses and Programs to ensure ongoing monitoring and systematic improvement.
2. forms part of the Bachelor of Science (BSCI) and is benchmarked against the internal USQ accreditation/reaccreditation processes which include (i) stringent standards in the independent accreditation of its academic programs, (ii) close integration between business and academic planning, and (iii) regular and rigorous review.

Other requirements

  1. The dates and location of the highly recommended residential school are available from the Residential School Timetable ( On-campus students can follow the Class Timetables ( as a guide or enrolled students can refer to their student portal and navigate to Student Centre>Self Service>Timetables>My Weekly Schedule.