20543 Adaptation of Plants to Environmental Stress

Credits: 3 advanced seminar credits in Life Sciences

Prerequisites: 36 credits in the Sciences, including General Biology I, General Biology II.1 Students must also fulfill all English requirements and take bibliographic instruction in the Library.

Required: Cell Structure and Function (single-semester format or year-long format), Biochemistry I

Recommended: Plants and Vegetation, Plant Physiology, Genetics 2

The course is based on a reader edited by Morly Fisher.

Environmental stress is defined as an external influence that causes damage to or decline in the metabolism or development of an organism. Organisms are for most part exposed to some degree of stress from environmental factors which are not optimal. Plants, unlike animals, are stationary and cannot distance themselves from stress factors by moving to more suitable environmental surroundings; due to environmental pressures plants have developed, in the course of evolution, resistance mechanisms that enable them to adapt to the environment. Plants also developed the ability to react to changing environmental factors through physiological and biochemical adjustment mechanisms. Study of the resistance and adjustment mechanisms to various stress factors has resulted in an understanding of their physiological, biochemical and molecular aspects such that science is currently able to isolate stress-resistant gene or genes and to transfer them to sensitive plants, thus improving their stress-resistance.

Topics: The impact of various stress factors (such as salinity, aridity, extreme temperature and biotic stress) on life processes and the mechanisms through which plants react to these stress factors and diminish their damage. Depending on the number of students enrolled in the course, a lecture and visit to a laboratory at the Weizmann Institute is conducted.

After studying the material, each student selects one of the mechanisms for contending with the stress factor and studies it on the biochemical and molecular levels, as well as the research methods and applications that provide resistance through this mechanism, and prepares a seminar paper.


1or three courses: Plants and Vegetation (20112), Cell Structure and Function (20452 single-semester format or 20214 year-long format), and Genetics (20275).

2or the previous version of the course, From Mendelism to Genetic Engineering.