ZOOL40030 Insect-Plant Interactions

Academic Year 2021/2022

A single oak tree can support as many as 300 different species of insect herbivore, yet despite such intense herbivore pressure the oak tree, and the rest of the world, remains green. Plants and animals have been staging an ecological 'arms race' for the last 350 million years, and the results, in the form of plant resistance, induced responses to herbivore attack, sequestration of plant defensive compounds etc, are fundamental to our understanding of terrestrial ecosystems. This course will examine interactions between insects and plants and the mechanisms that underpin both antagonistic and mutually beneficial relationships. Key topics that will be addressed include coevolution, modes of herbivory, feeding mechanisms and molecular approaches to the age-old problem of food production, and will highlight some of the really weird partnerships between insects and plants.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module you should:
1. Understand the diversity of interactions between insects and plants and how the evolutionary history of each partner has been shaped to exploit the other [FE]
2. Recognise the key selective forces in the physiology of insects and plants that act to perpetuate the relationship [FE]
3. Explain how biotechnology seeks to exploit natural plant defences to deter insect feeding and improve crop yields [FE]
4. Review the primary literature and write a short essay on a specified topic [CA]
5. Critically assess and synthesise the primary literature [FE, CA]

Assessment strategies: FE, final exam; CA, continuous assessment

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Self-directed learning
Literature research
Critical review 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: 2 hours, one essay question (seen) out of three 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Essay: 2000 word review essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 23, 24, 25, 28 Thurs 09:00 - 09:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 23, 24, 25, 28 Tues 09:00 - 09:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 23, 24, 25, 28 Wed 14:10 - 15:00