Plant Ecophysiology in a Changing Climate

Course content

Plant growth, reproduction and the geographical distribution of plant species are influenced by their interactions with the physical, chemical and biological environment. Plant Ecophysiology is the study of how plants sense, respond and adapt to variable environmental conditions.

In Plant Ecophysiology we highlight the basic mechanisms of plants, which allow them to tolerate and survive environmental challenges. Especially, we will focus on how plants respond to climate change and we will look at the consequences in terms of growth and diversity.

The course will take an integrative approach and study responses from the cellular to the ecosystem levels. In the course we work on cases from both natural terrestrial ecosystems as well as cultivated systems used for commercial plant production.

The main topics of the course are trained through a balanced combination of lectures, theoretical and practical exercises.

The specific course topics are:

1. Causes and consequences of climate change on plant growth and their geographical distribution

2. How have plants evolved to tolerate stress – what are the mechanisms?

3. The impacts of climate change on photosynthesis and respiration

4. Plant responses to drought and flooding

5. Plant responses to adverse soil conditions (salinity, acidity and mineral toxicity)

6. Plants and biotic interactions

7. Growth strategies and mineral nutrition: Why do some plant species grow faster than others?


MSc Programme in Agriculture
MSc Programme in Environmental Science

Learning outcome

After completion of the course students will have gained:


  • an advanced mechanistic understanding of how the environment influence plant growth at various levels of integration, from the single cell level to the whole plant and ecosystem levels.
  • an in-depth knowledge to the basic processes of plants affected by the physical, chemical and biological environment. 
  • a strong and contemporary focus on how the key parameters of climate change (e.g. temperature, carbon dioxide, irradiation, precipitation and their interactions) affect basic metabolism of plants and how this impacts plant growth and ecosystem diversity.



  • ability to assessing the impact of the environment on plant growth. 
  • ability use the concepts of plant stress responses to understand the mechanisms involved in plant adaptation and acclimation to adverse conditions and climate change.



  • key competences within plant science and nature management
  • ability to evaluate the conditions for plant growth in cultured and natural ecosystems.  
  • ability to evaluate and suggest strategies for improved plant tolerance towards climate change and adverse environmental conditions by agronomy practices and plant breeding will be obtained.

The course will consist of lectures, theoretical and practical exercises based on research data or relevant cases, solved individually or in groups for each topic.

Lambers, Chapin and Pons, 2019, Plant Physiological Ecology, 
3nd edition, Springer. (Available December 2019.)

Recent journal papers will be included where relevant

Prior knowledge of plant physiology – of particular relevance are the courses “Planters Økofysiology”, “Advanced Plant Biology” and “Plant Nutrition and Soil Fertility”.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min.
Type of assessment details
30 min preparation with all aids followed by a 20 min examination.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

In accordance with the learning outcomes

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 48
  • Preparation
  • 88
  • Theory exercises
  • 32
  • Practical exercises
  • 28
  • Exam
  • 10
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 3
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Natural Resources, Environment and Animal Science
Contracting department
  • Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Søren Husted   (3-756a7742726e6770306d7730666d)
Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Plant and Soil Science Section, Thorvaldsensvej 40, 3rd floor, room T340, DK-1871 Frederiksberg C, Tel: 23710001

Søren Husted
Thomas de Bang
Daniel Persson
Ana Assuncao
Mathias Pribil
Jan K. Schjørring

Saved on the 28-02-2022

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