Plant Ecophysiology

Course content

The course focusses on plant ecophysiology in terrestrial ecosystems, with emphasis on the main physiological mechanisms in terrestrial plants and their responses and adaptation to climate change. In the course, we discuss photosynthesis, carbon balance, water management – and transport mechanisms, nutrient uptake and -use as well as interactions between plants and microorganisms (bacteria, fungi). Plant physiology will be linked to environmental factors, plant ecology and terrestrial ecosystem ecology. Plant functions will be related to structure of cells, leaves, roots etc. Teaching consists of lectures, exercises and discussion sessions. We aim for at least one excursion.

Main themes addressed in the course:

  • Photosynthesis – background and effects of abiotic factors
  • Water relations (uptake, transpiration)
  • Plant growth and growth factors
  • Nutrient uptake
  • Plants’ adaption to their environment
  • Secondary metabolites
  • Biotic interactions
  • Functional plant diversity
  • Climate change effects on plant function


Main themes will be linked to environmental factors and plant anatomy if relevant, aiming to bridge physiology and ecology.


Bacheloruddannelsen i biologi

Learning outcome

The participants will acquire a broad knowledge of plant ecophysiology in terrestrial ecosystems. Emphasis is placed on plants’ responses to environmental change, including climate change. Teaching will cover plant light utilization, photosynthesis, carbon balance, water relations, nutrient uptake and transport, growth and regulation mechanisms, biotic interactions as well as selected plant functional groups and their response to climate change, crossing different levels of organisation from plant to ecosystem level.


 Specific learning outcomes and competences gained

  • Describe and explain photosynthesis, as well as its dependence on light, temperature, CO2
  • Describe the water balance of plants and explain which mechanisms are in place for water transport between soil, plant and atmosphere and how it is affected by climate change
  • Identify essential macro (e.g. N, P) and micronutrients for plant growth and define mechanisms and adaptations for nutrient uptake
  • Describe plant nutrient uptake in relation to nutrient availability in soil
  • Characterize the interactions between plant (roots) and microorganisms in soil, including mycorrhiza, nitrogen fixing bacteria etc.
  • Characterize gas exchange between plants and the atmosphere including H2O, CO2, N2 and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Describe plant growth, and anatomical adaptation to the environment
  • Explain differences in nutrient content and secondary metabolites between functional plant groups and describe how plants respond to herbivory and changes in the environment
  • Discuss plants’ responses to climate change and how it differs between different plant functional groups
  • Examine scientific research articles and communicate the main findings


During the course, the participants will acquire knowledge in plant ecophysiology and the connections between plant structure and function. Participants will be equipped with skills on how to assess and investigate this. Participants will gain insights and experience in performing and evaluating ecophysiological experiments. The participants will acquire skills and knowledge in plants’ interaction with the environment (abiotic and biotic) with a special focus on climate change effects on plant functions across a range of plant functional types. “Applied ecophysiology” in relation to commercial plant production is also included in the teaching.

Lectures with practical and theoretical exercises, discussions, group work, excursion.

See Absalon for a list of course literature. 

Courses corresponding to: Organismernes diversitet, Kemi, Almen Biokemi og Almen Økologi.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
On-site written exam, 3 hours under invigilation
Oral examination, 25 minutes (no preparation time)
Type of assessment details
In the last teaching week, student groups (2-3 students per group) present a project they can prepare during the course duration for 10 minutes followed by 15 minutes discussion. Each student receives individual feedback on the quality of the presentation.

The students receive one overall grade. The written exam counts 2/3 and the oral presentation counts 1/3. Both parts of the exam must be passed in the same examination term.

Written examination: all aids allowed

Oral examination: all aids allowed 

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

30 minutes oral exam without preparation or aids

Criteria for exam assessment

In order to obtain the grade 12 the student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competences described under Learning Outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 24
  • Class Instruction
  • 6
  • Preparation
  • 105
  • Theory exercises
  • 12
  • Practical exercises
  • 15
  • Excursions
  • 10
  • Project work
  • 30
  • Exam
  • 4
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level

1 block

Block 3
The number of places might be reduced if you register in the late-registration period (BSc and MSc) or as a credit or single subject student.
Study Board for the Biological Area
Contracting department
  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Kathrin Rousk   (13-72687b6f7970753579767c7a724769707635727c356b72)

Kathrin Rousk (BIO), Riikka Rinnan (BIO), Anders Michelsen (BIO), Eva Rosenqvist (PLEN), Fulai Liu (PLEN)

Saved on the 19-02-2024

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