Biology 3404F

Evolution of Plants

Fall 2008


Description: This course provides an introduction to the major groups of photosynthetic organisms – formerly all called "plants" (Kingdom Plantae) but now classified in three Domains and numerous Kingdoms.  These organisms feed the world, produce many of today's medicines, and provide numerous ecosystem functions. Lectures emphasize diversity, evolutionary relationships and importance, and labs emphasize morphology and recognition. The text (to be supplemented by important journal articles) supplies a good synthesis.


Instructor: Dr. R. Greg Thorn, Department of Biology

            417A Health Sciences (formerly South Valley) Building


            661-2111 ext. 88647



Lectures: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30-11:20 a.m., Physics & Astronomy 137


Labs: Mondays from 2:30-5:30, BGS 3015 [Lab coats/safety glasses not required]

            NOTE: First Lab is September 22


Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 11:30-12:00 (or by appointment)


Text: Raven, Evert & Eichorn, 2005, Biology of Plants, 7th edition, W.H. Freeman, New York. Required. We will use Chapters 1 and 11-20, plus supplemental readings to be provided. [Chapters 13 and 14 also cover many non-photosynthetic organisms that will not be treated in detail.] One copy of the text is on reserve in Taylor Science Library.  The 7th Edition is considerably revised from the 6th and has been out long enough to be obtained online or in some bookstores as a used book.


Lab Manual: Provided weekly in or before lab.



            Assignments 1-3: 5% each (for dates, see Course Calendar, below)

            Essay 15% Turn in Tues Nov 18 (in class or by 5 pm)

            Midterm Exam 25% 1 hour, in lecture slot Tues Oct 21

            Final Lab Exam 15% Monday Dec 1 (in lab)

            Final Exam 30% Semi-comprehensive, 3 hours, final exam period (TBA)


Antirequisite(s): The former Biology 216a.

Prerequisite(s): The published prerequisites are Biology 2483A (283a) and either Biology 2484A (284a) or 2485B (285b).  However, I do not believe these prerequisites are necessary and have initiated steps to change the calendar to remove them.  You will not be removed from this course for failure to have these prerequisites.

A Note from the Dean:

If you are unable to meet a course requirement due to illness or other serious circumstances, you must provide valid medical or other supporting documentation to the Dean's office as soon as possible and contact your instructor immediately.  It is the student's responsibility to make alternative arrangements with their instructor once the accommodation has been approved and the instructor has been informed. In the event of a missed final exam, a "Recommendation of Special Examination" form must be obtained from the Dean's Office immediately. For further information please see:


A student requiring academic accommodation due to illness, should use the Student Medical Certificate when visiting an off-campus medical facility or request a Record's Release Form (located in the Dean's Office) for visits to Student Health Services.

The form can be found here:


A Note on Academic Integrity from the UWO Senate:

         Plagiarism is a serious Scholastic Offence.  Students must write their essays and assignments in their own words.   Whenever students take an idea, or a passage from another author, they must acknowledge their debt both by using quotation marks where appropriate and by proper referencing such as footnotes or citations.  Plagiarism is a major academic offence (see Scholastic Offence Policy in the Western Academic Calendar).

         All required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to the commercial plagiarism detection software under license to the University for the detection of plagiarism.  All papers submitted will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between The University of Western Ontario and (


NEW (5 Sept 2008): A Note from the Registrar:

Statement on Use of Electronic Devices

         No electronic devices will be allowed during tests and examinations.

Statement on Use of Personal Response Systems ("Clickers")

         Personal Response Systems ("Clickers") are not used in this course.


Course Calendar

Note: We may not stay on schedule!



Week   Dates               Chapter, Subject Material, and Additional Readings                          

1          Sep 4:              Ch. 1: Introduction

2          Sep 9/11:         No lectures; Read Ch. 11-12, Keeling et al. 2004, and Palmer et al. 2004 Fig 1.

            Assignment #1: Find, read, and review (in 250-300 words) an important paper updating Keeling 2004 or Palmer et al. 2004.  Due Tues Sep 23. Value: 5%

3          Sep 16/18:       Inside cover & Ch. 11, 12: Review of systematics and evolution, geological eras, Life cycles; Thursday: Campus Hike and overview of included organisms

4          Sep 23/25:       Ch. 13: Prokaryotes and viruses; Ch 14: Fungi, with emphasis on biology of Lichens – symbiotic dual organisms

Assignment #2: Choose a Canadian or US Provincial/State plant (flower or tree) and provide its correct Latin name and classification, and a synopsis of the history/controversy of its name, synonyms, and classification (250-300 words).   Due Tues Oct 7. Value: 5%

5          Sep 30/Oct 2: Ch 15 : Photosynthetic Protists – the algae

6          Oct 7/9:           Ch. 16: Bryophytes

Assignment #3: Name and describe the genes used in phylogenetic analysis and "bar-coding" of plants, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each gene for these purposes (250-300 words).   Due Tues Oct 28. Value: 5%

7          Oct 14/16:       Ch. 17: Seedless vascular plants

8          Oct 21/23:       Midterm Exam Oct 21, Seedless vascular plants (continued)

9          Oct 28/30:       Ch. 18: Gymnosperms

10        Nov 4/6:          Gymnosperms (continued)

11        Nov 11/13:      Ch. 19: Introduction to the Angiosperms

12        Nov 18/20:      Ch. 20: Evolution of Angiosperms; Essay due Nov 18

13        Nov 25/27:      Angiosperms (continued)

14        Dec 2: Last lecture (review) Tuesday Dec 2; No Class Dec 4



Week   Dates                           Labs                                                               

1          Sep 2                           Labour Day – No Lab

2          Sept 9                          No Lab

3          Sept 15                        No Lab

4          Sept 22                        Lab 1: Algae

5          Sept 29                        Lab 2: Lichens

6          Oct 6                           Lab 3: Bryophytes

7          Oct 13                         Thanksgiving – No Lab

8          Oct 20                         Lab 4: Fossil plants, ferns and "fern allies"

9          Oct 27                         Lab 5: Non-conifer gymnosperms

10        Nov 3                          Lab 6: Conifers

11        Nov 10                        Lab 7: Basal Angiosperms

12        Nov 17                        Lab 8: Angiosperm Dicots

13        Nov 24                        Lab 9: Angiosperm Monocots

14        Dec 1                           Lab Exam