Molecular Aspects of Bio-interactionsOrganization logo: Wageningen University & Research

About this course

The course focuses on the molecular basis of interactions within or between plants or arthropods, including interactions with attackers (viruses, micro-organisms, nematodes, insects, parasitic plants) and beneficial organisms (symbiotic bacteria and fungi).
The following topics are discussed:

  • the repertoire of defence mechanisms in plants;
  • similarities between plant resistance proteins in relation to specificity towards effector proteins in the attacker;
  • signalling processes within an individual plant and between a plant and its neighbours;
  • defence-related signal transduction pathways and the cross-talk between pathways;
  • mechanisms and strategies by which attackers invade plants, overcome host defence responses and reproduce in or on the host tissues;
  • mechanisms and strategies by which symbiotic organisms interact with plants and arthropods;
  • gene regulation and stochasticity in sex determination of arthropods;
  • how fundamental molecular knowledge on these biological processes can be exploited to improve disease control measures.
    Experiments in the practical course illustrate aspects of the theory.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  • oversee the molecular basis of interactions between plants and viruses, micro-organisms, nematodes, insects, parasitic plants, symbiotic bacteria and fungi, as well as between arthropods;
  • integrate the complexity of the repertoire of defence mechanisms that plants utilize to (directly or indirectly) counteract attackers;
  • describe how attackers invade plants and reproduce, with emphasis on the function of certain proteins in these processes;
  • comprehend how symbiotic organisms interact with plants without triggering defense responses;
  • understand how insights into bio-interactions can be exploited to the benefit of plants;
  • explain the role of gene regulatory elements in gene regulation and stochasticity;
  • describe the symbiotic relations between insects and (endo)symbionts and the mechanism of reproductive manipulations induced by endosymbionts;
  • perform experiments in the field of biotic interactions;
  • write a report about the experiments in the format of a scientific publication.

Prior knowledge

Mandatory Knowledge:
ZSS06100 Laboratory Safety

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Wageningen University.


  • Start date

    30 oktober 2023

    • Ends
      22 december 2023
    • Term *
      Period 2
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      1 Jun, 23:59 - 1 Oct 2023
    Enrolment starts in 2 days
These offerings are valid for students of Utrecht University