Homepage » Courses Offered » Undergraduate Studies » 7th 13B047 Molecular Plant Development


Compulsory/Elective Code Semester Lectures Practicals Credits ECTS
Elective 13Β047 7th 3 Hrs/Wk  3 Hrs/Wk 4 5,5

Plants are an astonishing kingdom. Their existence keeps our planet and us alive. Even if we defeat malicious and contagious diseases, mankind’s survival on earth will always depend on these autotrophs and their remarkable products. The genetic, molecular and biochemical analysis of key genes will allow us to decipher their biological function, their involvement in complex regulatory networks and consequently, to understand in depth various aspects of plant development. Hence, multi-disciplinary approaches may be able to define rational designed strategies, towards the development of novel plants with unique features and/or desirable properties. The aim of the course is to describe and analyze (at the molecular, biochemical and genetic level) all up to date research achievements of the mechanisms underlying plant growth and development.

The course aims at the following general competences:

1. To provide a course on Molecular Plant Development, introducing students to the principles concerning the mechanisms of growth and differentiation of plants at the molecular level.

2. To outline complex and exciting molecular mechanisms involved in fundamental plant developmental processes and during various environmental conditions.

3. To make student familiar with the analysis of transgenic and mutant plants impaired in various molecular mechanisms of growth and differentiation.


Upon successful completion of this course, students will acquire new knowledge, skills and competences on the following subjects: a) Model plant species used to resolve developmental mechanisms that modulate plant growth and crop yield at the molecular level, b) Intercellular communication mechanism that determine cell fate and identity, c) Convergence of endogenous signals with environmental cues that modulate structure and development of the plant cell, tissues or organs, d) Methodologies and technologies applied to the research filed of Molecular and Developmental Plant Biology, e) Gene networks associated with hormonal signals modulating several aspects of plant development including embryogenesis, and root, leaf, shoot and flower development, f) Cooperative interaction and learning to analyze and present studies aiming to resolve modern issues in agriculture that could be resolved by manipulating  plant growth and development, g) Expertise and experience on browsing e-learning sites, online libraries and the content of scientific journals, h) Development of skills and abilities to mine the literature and present scientific results/data.


Introduction (3 hrs): The Plant Genome. An introduction to flowering plants. Mechanisms in plant development. The role of hormones in molecular plant development. Programmed cell death. The coordination of plant development. Regulation of gene expression by DNA/Histone modifications. Epigenetic phenomena that regulate plant growth and developmental mechanisms.

Molecular Plant Development Methods (15 hrs): Model plants used in Molecular Plant Development. Methods for functional genomics. Generating mutant, transgenic, cisgenic and intragenic plants/lines. Forward and reverse genetics. EMS and T-DNA mutagenesis. RNAi, Post transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) and site-directed mutagenesis methods (Oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis, Zinc-finger, TALEN and CRISPR genome editing). Plant transformation methods. Phenotypic, Genetic and Molecular analysis of mutants and transgenic plants.

Cell-intrinsic and positional information (4 hrs): Cell lineages and cell commitment. Laser ablation of cells in Arabidopsis. Green-white-green periclinal chimeras. Datura polyploid chimeras. Association between lineage, position, and age dependent mechanisms during cell fate determination. Case studies of genes and mutations that underline the involvement of cell-intrinsic, cell-extrinsic and age associated mechanisms during Arabidopsis thaliana plant growth, development, and differentiation.
Embryo development (2 hrs): Early events in embryogenesis. Seed development and maturation. Complexity of gene expression in the embryo. Molecular genetics of embryogenesis. Embryo-lethal mutants. Pattern mutants. Apical-basal axis mutants. Radial axis mutants.

Shoot development (4 hrs): Shoot apical meristem (SAM) organization. SAM “organizing center” and maintenance of SAM “niche” cells. Molecular genetics of shoot development. Mutants and genes affecting SAM organization, pattern formation and function.

Leaf development (3 hrs): Leave primordial initiation. Establishment of the axial polarity (asymmetry). Determination of the adaxial and abaxial identity. Involvement of miRNA in adaxial and abaxial asymmetry. Growth of the leaf area (lamina). Genetic control of leaf shape. Development of stomata and leaf trichomes. Molecular genetics and mutants affecting leaf development.

Flower development (4 hrs): Transition to floral development. Photoperiodic control of flowering. Molecular genetics of flower development. Flowering time genes. Meristem identity genes. Floral organ identity genes. The ABCE flowering model. Positive regulation of homeotic gene function. Mutants affecting ABCE gene function. The role of miRNAs in flower development. Case studies of genes and mutations.

Root development (4 hrs): Root morphology and development. Root apical meristem (RAM). Molecular biology and genetics of root development. Cell fate and cell lineage analysis. The role of positional information. Mutants affecting RAM organization and function. Molecular genetics and mutants of root hair development.


1. Stable transformation of Arabidopsis thaliana plants with Agrobacterium tumefaciens, using the floral dip method – 2. Selection of transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants, expressing the kanamycin resistance gene, on MS Km50 plates – 3. Agrobacterium mediated transient expression of a green fluorescent protein (GFP) construct in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves – 4. Tissue specific (qualitative) analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana plants, expressing the β-glucuronidase marker gene (GUS), by using X-Gluc substrate assays – 5. Quantitative GUS gene expression analysis of transgenic Arabidopsis plants, by using fluorometric enzyme assays.

  Lectures: Kosmas HaralampidisAssociate Professor of Molecular Plant Development (Coordinator)
  Practicals: Kosmas Haralampidis, Associate Professor of Molecular Plant Development (Coordinator) - Dr. Eleni Giannoutsou (Laboratory Teaching Staff) - Dr. Maria Dousi (Laboratory Teaching Staff)

There are no prerequisites compulsory courses to choose and attend the course. However, student's background knowledge in the fields of Biochemistry, Genetics, Botany, Plant Anatomy, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology and Plant Physiology are required, to comprehend the methodological approaches of molecular genetics and biotechnology used nowadays to study the relevant developmental genes and mechanisms.

The course is offered to Erasmus students: Teaching in Greek language - Exams in English language.

The evaluation process is carried out in Greek language (there is the possibility in English for Erasmus students), with a final examination of the whole course that includes: A. Written final examination (70-80%) on subjects presented during the theoretical courses. The exams may include questions of multiple choice, questions of theoretical knowledge and resolving theoretical problems – B. Written final examination on the laboratory exercises/practical courses (20%) that include questions to evaluate students’ critical thinking, and problem solving exercises to assess students’ skills in analyzing scientific data and information – C. Optional group or small autonomous assignments (10%) to evaluate the capabilities of processing and presenting scientific data. The average grade of Laboratory Exercises contributes 20% to the final, total, course grade.

  If you require more information, please contact the Course Coordinator, Assoc. Prof. Kosmas Haralampidis at: Tel: 0030 210 727 4131, Email: kharalamp[at]biol.uoa[dot]gr