The course focusses on the anatomical structures of plants. Especially the structure of vascular plants will be studied in detail because of the importance of these plants for humans (e.g. as food source), and the earth in general. Also the morphology of plants, and its huge diversity will be tackled. The major evolutionary lines will be studied, also covering the fungi, protists and algea. Aspects dealing with the interaction of these groups with humans will be accentuated. Also an overview of the most important plant species and families will be given.
The practicum is divided in three main parts: (i) microscopy, (ii) performing and interpreting experiments at home and (iii) an excursion to the botanical garden of Meise (if possible considering the corona pandemic).
The part on ‘microscopy’ includes the preparation of a few simple specimens of plant tissues and organs and the study of the anatomic structure of the organs (root, shoot and leaf).
The experiments are designed to learn to recognise plants as part of a “system” (for instance a biome or an agricultural area). The experiments include: a herbarium where students search for wild varieties of economically important crops from different plant families, investigating the influence of chemical and physical environmental factors on plants and building a macroscopic model to understand the anatomy of plants three-dimensionally.
During the excursion to the botanic gardens of Meise, the students will receive a more broad idea on the extraordinary diversity within the plant kingdom and on the different aspects related to the breeding of rare and exotic plant species.