PSC416 Plant Physiology (8)

Students will analyse the key scientific principles underpinning plant function. This subject will develop students skills in measuring the climatic environment and applying data to determine plant responses. Students will integrate knowledge of basic physiological processes to understand how plant growth and development performance is managed and influenced in crop production systems, particularly with respect to the seasonal climate. Students will also develop their knowledge of the major plant hormones, and how those inform agricultural and horticultural practices.

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

No offerings have been identified for this subject in 2018.

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

Enrolment Restrictions

This subject is restricted to students enrolled in the Master of Viticulture and Oenology (Articulated Set) or other postgraduate courses in a related field.


PSC102 or PSC103

Subject Relationships

PSC215 Paired Subject

Incompatible Subjects


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to assess the plant water relations and their relationship and application to the water balance of plants;
  • be able to critically evaluate the processes of photosynthesis, translocation of sugars in phloem tissues and their respiratory use in sinks, as well as access and transport of other nutrients from source to sink
  • be able to analyse the processes of flowering and reproductive development, with an integrated understanding of the environmental cues;
  • be able to compare the major plant hormones and their effects on plant growth and development;
  • be able to critically evaluate how environmental conditions, including light, carbon dioxide and temperature, influence photosynthesis and tolerance to water deficits;
  • be able to conduct measurements related to photosynthesis and plant water status.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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 3 day Compulsory Residential School.

The Residential School provides an opportunity to revise basic processes in a short lecture series as well as experience key physiological concepts through laboratory exercises. In particular, students will develop skills in measuring plant water relations and determining how the climate influences plant water loss. Skills in determining respiration rates and photosynthesis will be developed and used to interpret how these influence the transport processes and the source-sink balance. Students will also develop skills in measuring how the major plant hormones affect various plant processes, including axillary bud and extension growth and the role of plant hormones on plant water loss.

Special Resources

Students are required to attend the compulsory residential school which may involve travel and accommodation expenses and a time commitment. Students will also be required to purchase a lab coat and safety goggles which are compulsory for lab based practicals.


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.