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Stress Physiology and Defense Mechanisms of Plants

Code: 60245
ECTS: 6.0
Lecturers in charge: prof. dr. sc. Željka Vidaković-Cifrek
prof. dr. sc. Mirta Tkalec
Lecturers: prof. dr. sc. Mirta Tkalec - Practicum
dr. sc. Sandra Vitko - Practicum
Take exam: Studomat
English level:


The lecturer is not able to offer courses in English at this time.

1. komponenta

Lecture typeTotal
Lectures 30
Practicum 30
* Load is given in academic hour (1 academic hour = 45 minutes)

(1) Explain specific effects of different abiotic and biotic stress conditions on plants by implementation of fundamental knowledge of plant physiology.
(2) Describe morphological, physiological and metabolic adaptations of plants native on habitats with constantly or frequently present stressful conditions, with explanation of significance of these adaptations.
(3) Give examples and explanations of plant adaptation mechanisms in habitats with extremely unfavourable conditions.
(4) Analyse plant tolerance mechanisms and acclimation to moderate stress conditions, with few examples.
(5) Point out the plant responses to environmental changes caused by anthropogenic impacts with description of mechanisms of plant response
(6) Carry out experiments by using basic laboratory methods and instruments to gain experience in planning and performing research in the field of plant stress physiology
(7) Analyse data obtained from experiments to interpret results of research.



1. Introduction: stress conditions, mechanisms of resistance, adaptation, acclimatization, tolerance; phases of response to stress, model plants in stress physiology. 2. Water stress: water deficit, osmotic stress, plant adaptations and acclimatization to water stress. 3. Chilling and freezing: low temperatures, plant adaptations and acclimatization to low temperatures. 4. Heat stress: high temperatures: heat stress and heat shock, plant adaptations and acclimatization to heat stress. 5. Light and UV-stress: photoinhibition, photodamage and repair mechanisms, adaptations and acclimatization. 6. Salinity stress: halophytes, plant adaptations and acclimatization to high salt concentration, mechanisms of tolerance. 7. Anaerobic stress: hypoxia and anoxia, plant adaptations and acclimatization to oxygen deficiency; postanoxic stress. 8. Oxidative stress: reactive oxygen species, effects and antioxidative defense mechanisms. 9. Arctic and alpine plants: adaptations to low temperature and other unfavourable conditions (high irradiation, deficit of water and nutrients, wind, problems with reproduction etc.). 10. Desert plants: adaptations to water deficit and other unfavourable conditions (high irradiation, deficit of nutrients, wind, diurnal temperature changes (day-night), etc.). 11. Wetland and mangrove plants: adaptations to oxygen deficit and other unfavourable conditions (salinity, waves etc.), vivipary. 12. Fire and plants: adaptations, defense mechanisms; Kwongan vegetation. 13. Pollution: air and soil pollution, xenobiotics, heavy metals, hyperaccumulation of metals, phytoremediation; damage and defense mechanisms. 14. Biotic stress: plant responses to pathogens, herbivores, other plants due to competition for light, water and mineral nutrients; allelopathy, systemic acquired resistance. 15. Plant surface protection and secondary metabolites: surface protection: cutin, suberin, waxes; secondary metabolites: terpenoids, phenolic compounds, nitrogen-containing compounds: biosynthesis, distribution in plants, function.


In the scope of practical work students will study effect of selected stress factor on plants through planning of the experiment, laboratory work and interpretation of results.

1. Defining research topic and a hypothesis;
2. Selecting and reading relevant scientific literature;
3. and 4. Individual development of the work plan: protocols for laboratory procedures and methods (based on literature data and basic knowledge in plant physiology);
5. and 6. Starting of the experiment: growing plants in climate chamber or collecting on the field; exposure of plants to biotic or abiotic stress condition.
7. Laboratory work: influence of stress factor on photosynthesis by applying chlorophyll fluorescence measurements in vivo;
8. Evaluation of cell damage caused by oxydative stress (lipid peroxidation, protein carbonyls) by spectrophotometric methods
9. Spectrophotometric measurements of antioxidative enzyme activities
(peroxidase, catalase, superoxid dismutase);
10. and 11. Immunodetection of stress proteins separated by SDS-gel-electrophoresis
12. and 13. Statistical analysis of data and interpretation of results;
14. and 15. Report (in written form) that contains elements of original scientific paper: Abstract, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, References.
  1. Pevalek-Kozlina, B. (2003) Fiziologija bilja. Sveučilišni udžbenik. Profil International, Zagreb.
  2. Taiz, L. and Zeiger, E. (2010): Plant Physiology, 5th edition. Sinnauer Associates Inc., Publishers Sunderland, Massachusetts U.S.A.
  3. Buchanan, B., Gruissem, W., and Jones, R. L. (2002): Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Plants. John Wiley & Sons.
  4. Dodatna literatura: Odabrani radovi (originalni znanstveni radovi i pregledni radovi) iz područja fiziologije stresa u biljaka.

    Selected publications (original scientific papers and review papers) in the field of stress physiology in plants.
3. semester
Izborni predmeti - Regular module - Botany
Consultations schedule: