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Plant-based food - Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry

ECTS credits:  10


Course parameters:

Language: English

Level of course: MSc open for PhD students

Time of year: Spring 2024

No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s) or the like:112/200

Capacity limits: None

Course fee: None


Objectives of the course:
The aim is to provide students with different molecular biology and biological backgrounds with a solid foundation for later employment in areas ranging from development and processing of plant-food resources through plant breeding to plant and food biotechnology. 


Learning outcomes and competences:
At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Interpret and explain the physiological/eco-botanical principles that affect the productivity and quality of plant populations.
  • Explain and discuss the genetic control of plant tissue and organ development.
  • Describe, analyze and discuss the genetic basis of natural variation/diversity in plant traits.
  • Describe and evaluate the use of biotechnological methods in plant research and processing including gene-editing.
  • Reflect, discuss and assess challenges for future food production and food safety. 
  • Analyze and reflect on consequences and perspectives of the administrative and politically motivated regulatory frameworks for the development of new technologies.


Compulsory programme:
80 % attendance in the tutorials and at least two oral presentations of group work in tutorials.


Course contents:
Improving and developing plant-based foods is an important component of the green transition towards a more sustainable agri-food system. To advance this change, cultivation of tasty and nutritious plant raw material is essential and new food sources developed from the rich diversity of plant species would be required. However, plants evolved to prevent herbivores from consuming their seeds, shoots and roots and not to feed humans. How were plant crops domesticated to overcome this problem? What were the genetic and biochemical consequences? What challenges remain, and how can they be addressed using modern genetics and biochemistry approaches? This course offers a broad insight into the basic physiological, molecular, genetic- and biotechnological principles that support and/or are central for applied plant research. The course is expected to give the participants background knowledge and understanding of the latest biotechnological and genetic methods relevant for plant-food research, building the skill-set required for contributing to advancing the green transition in the agri-food sector.

The course covers key approaches and concepts where basic plant research is translated into applied research or has the potential to be translated into plant-food research. The teaching is based on molecular genetic research within model plants as well as crops and on studies of eco-biological principles. Genetics and genomics are integrated into plant-food research and gene-editing is covered as one of the biotechnological methods.


Basic molecular biology or equivalent courses. The course is based on intake of MSc and PhD students from both molecular biology and biology and is open to MSc and PhD students from Agroecology, Engineering and Food.

Name of lecturers:
Jens Stougaard (course coordinator), Christian F. Damgaard, Stig Uggerhøj Andersen, Hans Brix, Brian Sorrell Franziska Eller, Henrik Brinch Pedersen Kim Hebelstrup, Jieshun Lin, Manuel Frank, Francesca Tedeschi, Marcin Nadzieja, Annette Bruhn, Carsten Scavenius, Edazard Spillner, Thilani Jayakody, Lotte Bach, Fernando Geu-Flores, Inger Holme and guest lectures from academia and industry

Type of course/teaching methods:
Lectures will be divided into 30-minute sessions. The first 30-minutes will cover the basic molecular genetics, physiology and genetics of the topic. The second 30 minutes will cover the food related aspects of the topic. Tutorials with group work and oral student presentations of selected topics will follow these introductory sessions.

When possible teaching is combined with  excursions to relevant companies, such as: Sejet Plant Nordic Seed, DLF, Dupont, Novozymes, Horticulture Knud Jepsen a/s, Gartneriet Rosa, Hamlet Protein, KMC Brande, Christian Hansen, Carlsberg Laboratory 

Plant Physiology text book most likely Taiz, Zeiger and Møller. Publications


Course homepage:


Course assessment:
Oral, Internal co-examination, 7-point grading scale


Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics


Special comments on this course:
New course given first time spring 2024


Spring 2024


Campus Aarhus 8000 C


Course fee:


Deadline for registration is 5 January 2024. Please register by sending an e-mail to course leader Jens Stougaard, e-mail: stougaard@mbg.au.dk   

If you have any questions, please contact Jens Stougaard, e-mail: stougaard@mbg.au.dk 


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