Academic Programs Catalog

College of Natural Science

Department of Plant Biology

Danny J. Schnell, Chairperson

The Department of Plant Biology is administered jointly by the College of Natural Science and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Plant Biology is the branch of natural science that deals with all aspects of the biology of plants, encompassing all levels of biological organization from molecules to the ecosystem. Plant biology concerns itself with the study of the structure, function, evolution, physiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, and systematics of all taxonomic groups of plants and fungi. Plant biology is central to the wide divergence of disciplines that make up modern plant science at Michigan State University and deals with the relationships between plants and society. Students in this program can study all aspects of plant biology and they are trained to integrate information between different hierarchies of biological organization while at the same time developing a deep understanding of their area of specialization.


Undergraduate Education

The Department of Plant Biology offers two Bachelor of Science degree programs: one in plant biology and one in environmental biology/plant biology. In addition to course work, students experience scientific research through an independent research project that is part of the graduation requirements.

 

 


Plant Biology

The Bachelor of Science degree program with a major in plant biology is designed for students who plan to pursue careers in plant biotechnology industries, nurseries, botanical gardens, museums, herbaria, agricultural extension, or research laboratories, or who plan to pursue graduate study in the field of plant biology or related disciplines.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science Degree in Plant Biology

  1. The University requirements for bachelor's degrees as described in the Undergraduate Education section of this catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Biology.

    The University's Tier II writing requirement for the Plant Biology  major is met by completing Plant Biology 498 and 499 and  Zoology 355L or 445.  Those courses are referenced in item 3. below.

    Students who are enrolled in the College of Natural Science may complete the alternative track to Integrative Studies in Biological and Physical Sciences that is described in item 1. under the heading Graduation Requirements in the College statement.  Certain courses referenced in requirement 3.  below may be used to satisfy the alternative track.
  2. The requirements of the College of Natural Science for the Bachelor of Science degree.

    The credits earned in certain courses referenced in requirement 3. below may be counted toward College requirements as appropriate.
  3. The following requirements for the major:
                           
    a.     One of the following groups of courses (9 or 10 credits):  
          (1) BS 161 Cell and Molecular Biology 3
            BS 162 Organismal and Population Biology 3
            BS 171 Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory 2
            BS 172 Organismal and Population Biology Laboratory 2
          (2) LB 144 Biology I: Organismal Biology 4
            LB 145 Biology II: Cellular and Molecular Biology 5
          (3) BS 181H Honors Cell and Molecular Biology 3
            BS 182H Honors Organismal and Population Biology 3
            BS 191H Honors Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory 2
            BS 192H Honors Organismal and Population Biology Laboratory 2
    b.     One of the following groups of courses (8 to 10 credits):  
          (1) CEM 141 General Chemistry 4
            CEM 142 General and Inorganic Chemistry 3
            CEM 161 Chemistry Laboratory I 1
          (2) CEM 151 General and Descriptive Chemistry 4
            CEM 152 Principles of Chemistry 3
            CEM 161 Chemistry Laboratory I 1
          (3) LB 171 Principles of Chemistry I 4
            LB 171L Introductory Chemistry Laboratory I 1
            LB 172 Principles of Chemistry II 3
          (4) CEM 181H Honors Chemistry I 4
            CEM 182H Honors Chemistry II 4
            CEM 185H Honors Chemistry Laboratory I 2
    c.     Both of the following courses (6 credits):  
          CEM 251 Organic Chemistry I 3
          CEM 252 Organic Chemistry II 3
    d.     One of the following groups of courses (8 credits):  
          (1) PHY 183 Physics for Scientists and Engineers I 4
            PHY 184 Physics for Scientists and Engineers II 4
          (2) PHY 231 Introductory Physics I 3
            PHY 232 Introductory Physics II 3
            PHY 251 Introductory  Physics Laboratory I 1
            PHY 252 Introductory Physics Laboratory II 1
          (3) LB 273 Physics I 4
            LB 274 Physics II 4
    e.     One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):  
          LB 118 Calculus I 4
          MTH 124 Survey of Calculus I 3
          MTH 132 Calculus I 3
          MTH 152H Honors Calculus I 3
    f.     One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):  
          LB 119 Calculus II 4
          MTH 126 Survey of Calculus II 3
          MTH 133 Calculus II 4
          MTH 153H Honors Calculus II 4
          STT 231 Statistics for Scientists 3
    g.     All of the following courses (27 credits):  
          PLB 203 Biology of Plants 4
          PLB 415 Plant Physiology 3
          PLB 416L Plant Physiology Laboratory 2
          PLB 418 Plant Systematics 3
          PLB 498 Undergraduate Research 3
          PLB 499 Senior Seminar 1
          ZOL 355 Ecology 3
          ZOL 355L Ecology Laboratory (W) 1
          ZOL 341 Fundamental Genetics 4
          ZOL 445 Evolution (W) 3
    h.     One of the following options (4 or 6 credits):  
          (1) BMB 401 Comprehensive Biochemistry 4
          (2) BMB 461 Advanced Biochemistry I 3
            BMB 462 Advanced Biochemistry II 3
    i.     One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):  
          PLB 434 Plant Structure and Function 4
          PLB 441 Plant Ecology 3
    j.     One of the following courses (3 credits):  
          MMG 409 Eukaryotic Cell Biology 3
          MMG 431 Microbial Genetics 3
    k.     Two 300–400 level courses relating to plant biology approved by the Department of Plant Biology (6 to 8 credits)

 


Environmental Biology/Plant Biology

The Bachelor of Science degree program in environmental biology/plant biology is designed for students who plan to pursue careers involving plants and the environment or who plan to pursue graduate study in the biological sciences.  Graduates may be employed in nature organizations, environmental impact firms, or government.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Biology/ Plant Biology

  1. The University requirements for bachelor's degrees as described in the Undergraduate Education section of this catalog; 120 credits, including general elective credits, are required for the Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Biology/Plant Biology.

    The University's Tier II writing requirement for the Environmental Biology/Plant Biology  major is met by completing the following courses:  Plant Biology 498 and 499 and Zoology 355L.  Those courses are referenced in item 3. a. below.

    Students who are enrolled in the College of Natural Science may complete the alternative track to Integrative Studies in Biological and Physical Sciences that is described in item 1. under the heading Graduation Requirements in the College statement.  Certain courses referenced in requirement 3. below may be used to satisfy the alternative track.
  2. The requirements of the College of Natural Science for the Bachelor of Science degree.

    The credits earned in certain courses referenced in requirement 3. below may be counted toward College requirements as appropriate.
  3. The following requirements for the major:
                             
    a.     One of the following groups of courses (8 to 10 credits):    
          (1) CEM 141 General Chemistry 4  
            CEM 142 General and Inorganic Chemistry 3  
            CEM 161 Chemistry Laboratory I 1  
          (2) LB 171 Principles of Chemistry I 4  
            LB 171L Introduction to Chemistry Laboratory I 1  
            LB 172 Principles of Chemistry II 3  
          (3) CEM 181H Honors Chemistry I 4  
            CEM 182H Honors Chemistry II 4  
            CEM 185H Honors Chemistry Laboratory I 2  
    b.     One of the following groups of courses (9 or 10 credits):    
          (1) BS 161 Cell and Molecular Biology 3  
            BS 162 Organismal and Population Biology 3  
            BS 171 Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory 2  
            BS 172 Organismal and Population Biology Laboratory 2  
          (2) LB 144 Biology I:  Organismal Biology 4  
            LB 145 Biology II:  Cellular and Molecular  Biology 5  
          (3) BS 181H Honors Cell and Molecular Biology 3  
            BS 182H Honors Organismal and Population Biology 3  
            BS 191H Honors Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory 2  
            BS 192H Honors Organismal and Population Biology Laboratory 2  
    c.     One of the following groups of courses (8 credits):    
          (1) PHY 183 Physics for Scientists and Engineers I 4  
            PHY 184 Physics for Scientists and Engineers II 4  
          (2) PHY 231 Introductory Physics I 3  
            PHY 232 Introductory Physics II 3  
            PHY 251 Introductory Physics Laboratory I 1  
            PHY 252 Introductory Physics Laboratory II 1  
          (3) LB 273 Physics I 4  
            LB 274 Physics II 4  
    d.     One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):    
          MTH 124 Survey of Calculus I 3  
          MTH 132 Calculus I 3  
          MTH 152H Honors Calculus I 3  
          LB 118 Calculus I 4  
    e.     One of the following, either (1) or (2) (4 or 6 credits):    
          (1) CEM 143 Survey of Organic Chemistry 4  
          (2) CEM 251 Organic Chemistry I 3  
            CEM 252 Organic Chemistry II 3  
    f.     All of the following courses (30 credits):    
          CSS 210 Fundamentals of Soil Science 3  
          FW 417 Wetland Ecology and Management 3  
          GEO 221 Introduction to Geographic Information 3  
          PLB 203 Biology of Plants 4  
          PLB 415 Plant Physiology 3  
          PLB 418 Plant Systematics 3  
          PLB 498 Undergraduate Research 3  
          PLB 499 Senior Seminar (W) 1  
          STT 231 Statistics for Scientists 3  
          ZOL 355 Ecology 3  
          ZOL 355L Ecology Laboratory (W) 1  
    g.     One of the following courses: (3 or 4 credits):    
          CSS 350 Introduction to Plant Genetics 3  
          ZOL 341 Fundamental Genetics 4  
    h.     One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):    
          ENT 404 Fundamentals of Entomology 3  
          PLP 405 Plant Pathology 3  
          PLP 407 Diseases and Insects of Forest and Shade Trees 4  
    i.     One of the following courses (3 credits):    
          FW 410 Upland Ecosystem Management 3  
          FW 444 Conservation Biology 3  
    j.     Two 300–400 level courses relating to environmental biology approved by the Department of Plant Biology (6 to 8 credits)

 


Graduate Study

The Department of Plant Biology is administered jointly by the College of Natural Science and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The department offers Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs with majors in plant biology. Those programs are referenced below. The department also offers Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs with majors in plant breeding and genetics—botany and plant pathology through the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. For information about those programs, refer to the statement on the Department of Plant Biology in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources section of this catalog.


Plant Biology - Master of Science

Graduate students in plant biology may emphasize one or more of a number of special areas, including anatomy, bryology, cell biology, ecology, genetics, molecular biology, morphology, mycology, paleobotany, physiology, and taxonomy. Students are urged to take courses which provide a broad background in biological and physical sciences in addition to training in specialized areas.

Master of Science

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Natural Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

Regular admission may be granted to those students who have a bachelor's degree or its equivalent, a 3.00 grade–point average, one year each of chemistry, mathematics, and physics, and appropriate training in the biological sciences.

Provisional admission may be granted to those students who do not meet the requirements for regular admission.

Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Plant Biology

The master's degree program in plant biology is available under either Plan A (with thesis) or Plan B (without thesis). The student's program of study is arranged by a guidance committee which includes the major professor.

For either Plan A or Plan B, the student must complete at least 30 credits including:

  1. Both of the following courses:
    PLB    801    Foundations of  Plant Biology  (3)
    PLB    804    Frontiers in Plant Biology  (2)
  2. Acquire teaching experience by assisting in at least one course.
  3. Completion of the Responsible Conduct of Research Workshop series offered by The Graduate School.

A reading knowledge of a foreign language may be required.

 


Plant Biology - Doctor of Philosophy

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Natural Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

Regular admission may be granted to those students who have a master’s degree or its equivalent, a 3.00 grade–point average, and appropriate training in the biological sciences.  Outstanding students without a master’s degree may be accepted.

Provisional admission may be granted to those students who do not meet the requirements for regular admission.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Plant Biology

All doctoral students in plant biology must meet the requirements specified below:

               
1. Complete the following courses:  
  a. Both of the following courses:  
    PLB 801 Foundations in Plant Biology 3
    PLB 804 Frontiers in Plant Biology 2
  b. Completion of the Responsible Conduct of Research Workshop series offered by The Graduate School.  
  c. One of the following courses:  
    CMB 800 Cell and Molecular Biology Seminar 1
    ENT 812 Graduate Seminar 1
    FW 893 Seminar in Fisheries and Wildlife 1
    GEN 800 Genetics Seminar 1
    GEO 874 Seminar in Geographic Information Science 3
    HRT 892 Plant Breeding and Genetics Seminar 1
    PLP 894 Seminar in Plant Pathology 1
    ZOL 891 Current Topics in Ecology and Evolution 1
    ZOL 895 Seminar 1
2. Pass a preliminary examination.  
3. Acquire teaching experience by assisting in two courses.  
4. Pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation.  

 Additional requirements, such as reading knowledge of one or two foreign languages, may be specified.