PSC215 Plant Physiology (8)

This subject provides an understanding of the science behind how plants function. It is made up of three components which cover, basic processes, including plant water relations, photosynthesis, respiration, translocation and nutrient uptake; The developmental processes including growth analysis, reproductive development and hormonal regulation; and environmental physiology which deals with variation in light, water, carbon dioxide, temperature and nutrient availability influences plant performance.

The distance education mode requires students to attend a 4 day residential school . The Residential School is compulsory and provides an opportunity to revise basic processes in a short lecture/tutorial series as well as experience of key physiological concepts through laboratory exercises.

Subject Outlines
Current CSU students can view Subject Outlines for recent sessions. Please note that Subject Outlines and assessment tasks are updated each session.


* Offering has a residential school. Please view following information for further details.

Session 1 (30)
Online *
Wagga Wagga Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: PSC215. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences


PSC102 or PSC103 or AGR156

Incompatible Subjects

HRT234, PSC214

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to clearly define the meaning of the plant water relations and its relationship to the water balance of plants;
  • be able to explain the processes of photosynthesis, the translocation of sugars in phloem tissues and the respiratory use of those sugars in sinks;
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of how plants access nutrients and their transport around the plant;
  • be able to evaluate plant growth and development and interpret this in terms of how plants grow;
  • be able to explain the processes of flowering, including the environmental cues;
  • be able to account and explain the major plant hormones and their effects on plant growth and development;
  • be able to clearly define the processes of reproductive development;
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of how environmental conditions influence photosynthesis, including light, carbon dioxide and temperature;
  • be able to explain how plants respond to the extremes of temperature and
  • be able to account for and explain the strategies that plants use to tolerate water deficits.


This subject will cover the following topics:

Basic processes
- Plant water relations (water potential and its components, cohesion-tension theory, stomatal regulation);
- Photosynthesis (light and dark reactions, C3, C4 and CAM modes, photorespiration);
- Respiration (basic biochemistry and location);
- Assimilate transport and partitioning (Munch hypothesis, phloem loading and unloading, regulation of phloem transport);
- Nutrient acquisition (energetics, active and passive uptake)

Developmental processes
- Growth analysis (growth indices, environmental influences on growth and partitioning);
- Physical cues for growth and reproduction (dormancy, floral initiation, photoperiodism, vernalisation, phytochrome);
- Plant hormones (types, mobility, signal transduction, roles, growth regulators);
- Reproductive growth (fruit set and growth, fruit composition, maturity and ripening)

Plants and the environment
-  Light (photosynthesis in sun and shade, acclimation, agricultural and horticultural production);
-  Carbon dioxide (elevated CO2 - C3 vs C4, stomatal conductance, respiration, interaction with other environmental variables);
- Temperature (biochemistry, photosynthesis, assimilate transport, thermal time, chilling);
- Water (phenology, RDI, drought);
- Nutrients (essential nutrients, deficiencies)

Residential School

This subject contains a 4 day Compulsory Residential School.The Residential School is compulsory and provides an opportunity to revise basic processes in a short lecture series as well as experience of key physiological concepts through laboratory exercises.


Current Students

For any enquiries about subject selection or course structure please contact Student Central or or phone on 1800 275 278.

Prospective Students

For further information about Charles Sturt University, or this course offering, please contact info.csu on 1800 275 278 (free call within Australia) or enquire online.

The information contained in the 2018 CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: August 2018. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.