HOS 3305 – Introduction to Plant Molecular Biology. Students that take this course learn about the structure and function of macromolecules that encode, store and regulate the flow genetic information used by living organisms, with emphasis on plants. This course addresses the composition and structure of the three plant genomes and the processes involved in the transmission and expression of genetic information encoded in them. More specifically, the topics include the structures and processes associated with DNA replication, transcription, translation, some basic aspect of regulation of gene expression, and plant transformation. The course emphasizes interpretation of experimental evidence. Students have to select an article describing some seminal work for oral presentation at the end of the semester. This activity provides undergraduate students with the opportunity for an in-depth analysis of original work and challenges them to read, interpret, synthesize and communicate information.
HOS 4313C/6932 – Laboratory Methods in Plant Molecular Biology. This course provides students with hand-on experience with basic laboratory methods through a balanced combination of lectures and execution of various lab procedures. Students learn how to measure genome size and how to use this information in multiple applications. In the bioinformatics section, students learn how to find and retrieve specific DNA sequences, carry out a structural analysis, and design primers for PCR amplification. Amplified sequences are cloned and sequenced. Subsequently, do an analysis of gene expression of those sequences using RT-PCR. Finally, students become acquainted with procedures used for transient transformation with Agrobacterium. A nine-unit manual was prepared that contains extensive background information, list of reagents and solutions, and detailed protocols. Lab reports and exams emphasize problem-solving throughout the semester. The graduate level requires the design and completion of a bioinformatics project.