Fwd: Plant Seminar

Joseph Holtum joseph.holtum at jcu.edu.au
Fri Dec 12 07:15:24 EST 2003

I run a course with the ridiculous title of 'Bush foods, plant defences
physiology' - a 3rd year level course that is really physiology by stealth.

We discuss plants that are eaten by desert- and coastal-dwelling
aboriginals - 
what is eaten and why (talk about the trade-offs between labour required
seed size, washing out water-soluble toxins, characteristics of grasses
favour use by humans as food). At the end of this section it is clear
that the 
common factors between the foods are the provision of proteins, lipids,
and sugars. We then discuss where these components are in the plants,
how they 
are synthesised, catabolised.

The next section of the course is about how plants defend themselves
things that eat them - hence defence theory, 2ndary metabolism etc. This
an entre into how plants defend themselves from the extremes of
environment eg 
photoprotection, drought tolerance, responses to high CO2. Then we
finish with 
a couple of lectures on bioprospecting and plant genetic engineering.
course ends up with a function where we get stuck into various foods and
much beer and wine as we can take.

The idea was to teach some plant phys from an anthropocentric point of
because we have been noticing that many of our students had no interest
physiology taught from a photosynthetic angle (what a pity!).

It worked as a course - though there has been a steep learning course
for the 
lecturer! Although it is run as a 3rd year course, I am sure that the
could be tailored for any level.

For pracs we did a bush tucker plant identification prac and we
starch, proteins, sugars and fats from 3 bush tucker and 3
species (a seed species, a tuber and a fruit).


Joe Holtum

> >X-Original-To: plant-ed-list at hgmp.mrc.ac.uk
> >To: plant-ed at net.bio.net
> >Newsgroups: bionet.plants.education
> >Subject: Plant Seminar
> >Date: 10 Dec 2003 00:52:35 -0000
> >From: drobinson at bellarmine.edu ("Robinson, Dr. David")
> >Organization: BIOSCI/MRC Human Genome Mapping Project Resource Centre
> >Sender: owner-plant-ed at hgmp.mrc.ac.uk
> >X-JCU-MailScanner-Information: Please contact the ISP for more information
> >X-JCU-MailScanner: Found to be clean
> >
> >
> >My college requires all freshman to take a seminar course designed to
> >develop their skills at reading, writing, communicating, and integrating
> >across disciplines (rather than emphasizing content).  Individual
> >faculty are encouraged to develop these seminars on topics they are
> >particularly interested in, or are not able to pursue to any great
> >extent in their regular curriculum.
> >
> >I believe Ethnobotany would be a suitable topic for such a seminar, but
> >am at a loss for course titles.  I already know about "Plants and
> >Society", "Plants and Civilization", "Plants and Human Affairs", "Plants
> >and Culture", "Plants and Human History", etc.
> >
> >Has anyone run across a more creative title for a non-science seminar
> >course that might cover topics as diverse as medicinal plants,
> >domestication of crop plants, plants and the environment, and the
> >religious/cultural uses of plants?
> >
> >Thanks for any ideas.
> >
> >Dave Robinson
> >Biology Department
> >Bellarmine University
> >2001 Newburg Road
> >Louisville, KY  40205
> >
> >502-452-8197
> >---
> Dr Joe Holtum,
> Dept. of Tropical Plant Sciences,
> School of Tropical Biology,
> James Cook University,
> Townsville, Queensland 4811,
> Facsimile:        +61 (int) (0) 747 251 570
> Telephone:        +61 (int) (0) 747 814 391
> Electronic mail:  joseph.holtum at jcu.edu.au
> Internet:         http://www.jcu.edu.au/school/tbiol/Botany/staff/jamh.htm


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