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, acclimate 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. Signalling at the plant and ecosystem level


MSc Programme in Agriculture
MSc Programme in Environmental Science
MSc Global Environment and Development

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. 

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 of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Type of assessment details
20 minute oral examination with 20 minute preparation time and no aids allowed.

The oral examination will solely focus on known material used in teaching. Each student will be given two key figures or tables illustrating core aspects among the learning objectives of the course and asked to prepare an oral presentation of the contents. In addition, a small textbook section will be handed out and the student is asked to present one or more learning objectives described in the text.
Exam registration requirements

Minimum 75% attendance in theoretical and practical exercises and approval of laboratory reports prior to exam.

Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

Same as for the ordinary exam.

If the student has not met the requirements for the exam, the laboratory reports need to be handed in and approved three weeks before the re-exam.

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 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 of Natural Resources, Environment and Animal Science
Contracting department
  • Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Søren Husted   (3-776c794474706972326f7932686f)
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
Daniel Persson
Ana Assuncao
Grmay Lilay
Hans Thordal Christensen
Carsten Petersen
Hans Lyngs

Saved on the 19-02-2024

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