Twin Cities campus
 
Twin Cities Campus

Plant Pathology Ph.D.

Plant Pathology
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
Link to a list of faculty for this program.
Contact Information
Department of Plant Pathology Graduate Program, 495 Borlaug Hall, 1991 Buford Circle, Saint Paul, MN 55108 (612-625-8200)
  • Program Type: Doctorate
  • Requirements for this program are current for Spring 2017
  • Length of program in credits: 56
  • This program requires summer semesters for timely completion.
  • Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Along with the program-specific requirements listed below, please read the General Information section of this website for requirements that apply to all major fields.
Plant pathology focuses on the biology of plant-microbe interactions, and incorporates research involving biochemical, molecular, genetic, physiological, whole organism, population, and community levels of biological organization. Plant pathology interfaces with all plant science disciplines, and with food sciences, veterinary medicine, biobased products, and ecology. Areas of concentration include molecular plant pathology (offered as a special emphasis), plant disease management, biological control of plant disease, forest pathology and microbial degradation of wood, microbial ecology, population biology, plant-microbe interactions, disease resistance, host-parasite coevolution, plant microbe mutualisms, and virology. Students have opportunities for laboratory and field research locally as well as nationally and internationally. The course of study varies with the requirements of the area of concentration and interests of the student. Students who choose the emphasis in molecular plant pathology enhance their ability to design and use molecular approaches to investigate plant disease, increase basic knowledge, and develop new strategies for disease control.
Program Delivery
  • via classroom (the majority of instruction is face-to-face)
Prerequisites for Admission
The preferred undergraduate GPA for admittance to the program is 3.50.
Applicants must have a sound college background in the basic biological and physical sciences and mathematics.
PhD applicants must satisfy all the prerequisites for the master's degree program in plant pathology or have a master's degree in plant pathology or in a field of natural science.
Other requirements to be completed before admission:
Applicants must have completed 35 semester credits in biology with at least one course in each of the following areas: botany, zoology, genetics, plant physiology, and microbiology. Applicants must also have completed at least one course each in inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics. If deficiencies exist in the prerequisites, they must be corrected during the first year of the graduate program. Applicants should note that these courses cannot be counted as part of the degree program. All students accepted into the department with only a BS degree are admitted into the MS degree program. After a minimum of two semesters, students who qualify may elect to change their degree status to the PhD program. Criteria for the change include scholastic standing, potential for success in completing a PhD, and writing competency.
Special Application Requirements:
GRE scores are required for all students and TOEFL or IELTS scores are required for international students. A clearly written statement of career interests as well as three letters of recommendation are required of all students. Students may apply at any time; however, submission of all application materials by December 10 will ensure priority consideration for fellowships and research assistantships for the next academic year. Students can be admitted any semester.
Applicants must submit their test score(s) from the following:
  • GRE
    • General Test - Verbal Reasoning: 153
    • General Test - Quantitative Reasoning: 148
    • General Test - Analytical Writing: 4.5
International applicants must submit score(s) from one of the following tests:
  • TOEFL
    • Internet Based - Total Score: 79
    • Internet Based - Writing Score: 21
    • Internet Based - Reading Score: 19
    • Paper Based - Total Score: 550
  • IELTS
    • Total Score: 6.5
The preferred English language test is Test of English as Foreign Language.
Key to test abbreviations (GRE, TOEFL, IELTS).
For an online application or for more information about graduate education admissions, see the General Information section of this website.
Program Requirements
20 credits are required in the major.
12 credits are required outside the major.
24 thesis credits are required.
This program may be completed with a minor.
Use of 4xxx courses towards program requirements is not permitted.
A minimum GPA of 2.80 is required for students to remain in good standing.
At least 2 semesters must be completed before filing a Degree Program Form.
Students must enroll in a supervised teaching or extension teaching experience, chosen in consultation with the advisor and director of graduate studies. Degree plans are determined by the advisory committee, with approval of the director of graduate studies. Regular attendance at weekly plant pathology seminars is expected. Internships are encouraged as part of of the graduate experience. Financial support for international or domestic internships is available on a competitive basis.
Required Coursework
All students take the following courses, if not completed previously. Take PLPA 8200 twice for a total of 2 credits; PLPA 8090 for 2 credits to fulfill the one-semester teaching experience requirement; and take GRAD 8101 or Grad 8102 concurrently with or after completing PLPA 8090. These credits count toward the 20 major credits.
PLPA 5480 - Principles of Plant Pathology (3.0 cr)
PLPA 8103 - Plant-Microbe Interactions (3.0 cr)
PLPA 8123 - Research Ethics in Plant and Environmental Sciences (0.5 cr)
PLPA 8200 - Seminar (1.0 cr)
PLPA 8090 - Advanced Procedures and Research in Plant Pathology (1.0-8.0 cr)
GRAD 8102 - Practicum for Future Faculty (3.0 cr)
or GRAD 8101 - Teaching in Higher Education (3.0 cr)
Electives
Take at least 12 credits, in consultation with the advisor, to complete the outside credit requirement. Suggested courses are listed.
AGRO 8241 - Chromosomal and Molecular Genetics of Plant Improvement (3.0 cr)
ANSC 5200 - Statistical Genetics and Genomics (4.0 cr)
BIOC 5361 - Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics (3.0 cr)
CSCI 5481 - Computational Techniques for Genomics (3.0 cr)
EEB 5221 - Molecular Evolution (3.0 cr)
AGRO 5021 - Plant Breeding Principles (3.0 cr)
GCD 5036 - Molecular Cell Biology (3.0 cr)
GCD 8131 - Advanced Molecular Genetics and Genomics (3.0 cr)
MICA 8002 - Structure, Function, and Genetics of Bacteria and Viruses (4.0 cr)
AGRO 5431 - Applied Plant Genomics and Bioinformatics (3.0 cr)
BBE 5302 - Biodegradation of Bioproducts (3.0 cr)
AGRO 8201 - Advanced Plant Breeding (3.0 cr)
PBIO 5412 - Plant Physiology and Development (3.0 cr)
CSCI 5461 - Functional Genomics, Systems Biology, and Bioinformatics (3.0 cr)
Thesis Credits
Take at least 24 doctoral thesis credits.
PLPA 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral (1.0-24.0 cr)
Non-Molecular and Molecular Plant Pathology Options
Molecular Plant Pathology Option
In addition to courses required of all doctoral students, students pursuing the molecular plant pathology option must complete the following courses to meet the 17.5-credit minimum for the major. Take PLPA 5300 twice for a total of 2 credits.
PLPA 5301 - Plant Genomics (3.0 cr)
PLPA 5300 - Current Topics in Molecular Plant Pathology (1.0 cr)
PLPA 8104 - Plant Virology (2.0 cr)
or PLPA 8105 - Plant Bacteriology (2.0 cr)
-OR-
Non-Molecular Plant Pathology Option
In addition to courses required of all doctoral students, students pursuing the non-molecular plant pathology option must complete the following courses to meet the 17.5-credit minimum for the major:
PLPA 5444 - Ecology, Epidemiology, and Evolutionary Biology of Plant-Microbe Interactions (3.0 cr)
PLPA 8104 - Plant Virology (2.0 cr)
PLPA 8105 - Plant Bacteriology (2.0 cr)
 
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PLPA 5480 - Principles of Plant Pathology
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall
Diseases that affect plants, microbiology and microbial and plant interactions. Mycology and select diseases caused by fungi within Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, and the fungal-like Oomycota. Diseases caused by bacteria, nematodes, viruses, parasitic plants and abiotic damage. Lecture and Lab. prereq: BIOL 1009 or equiv
PLPA 8103 - Plant-Microbe Interactions
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Spring
Genetics, physiology, and molecular biology of plant-microbe interactions. Communication between plants/microbes. Signal transduction, control of gene expression, symbiosis/parasitism, plant host response mechanisms, plant disease physiology. prereq: Intro course in plant pathology or molecular biology or equiv
PLPA 8123 - Research Ethics in Plant and Environmental Sciences
Credits: 0.5 [max 0.5]
Course Equivalencies: APSc/PBio/PlPa/Soil 8123
Grading Basis: S-N or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
History/values relating to research/scholarship. Social responsibility, reporting misconduct. Authorship. Plagiarism. Peer review. Copyright, intellectual property. Conflicts of interest. Research data management. Fiscal responsibility/management. Environmental health/safety. Research involving humans/animals. Mentorship. Presentations by faculty, invited speakers. Meets during first seven weeks of spring semester. prereq: Enrolled in a plant/environmental grad research program
PLPA 8200 - Seminar
Credits: 1.0 [max 1.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Critical review and presentation of current problems and progress in plant pathology.
PLPA 8090 - Advanced Procedures and Research in Plant Pathology
Credits: 1.0 -8.0 [max 8.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Special assignment in lab and field problems in pathological research. If taking for PLPA teaching requirement: 2 credits= 1 full semester of teaching experience; 1 credit= 1/2 semester of teaching experience
GRAD 8102 - Practicum for Future Faculty
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: OPT No Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Collegial support for teaching, faculty mentorship at regional college or university. Faculty role at various institutions. Classroom observation/feedback, preparation for academic job search. prereq: [8101 or equiv], [native English speaker or [ibTOEFL score of 27-30] or [ELP score of 1 from CTL]]
GRAD 8101 - Teaching in Higher Education
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: OPT No Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Teaching methods/techniques. Active learning, critical thinking, practice teaching, and preparing a portfolio to document/reflect upon teaching. Readings, discussion, peer teaching, e-mail dialog, reflective writing, co-facilitation of course. prereq: Non-Degree Students: contact pffcollege consentumn.edu with questions about registration. If adding a section after first class meeting, contact your instructor as soon as you enroll.
AGRO 8241 - Chromosomal and Molecular Genetics of Plant Improvement
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Spring Even Year
Mixture of classic/current info in molecular plant genetics, biotech, and genomics. Students devise experiments in breeding, genetics, genomics, physiology, cellular/molecular biology, and other areas. prereq: Introductory Genetics course
ANSC 5200 - Statistical Genetics and Genomics
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Course Equivalencies: AnSc 5200/MVB 5200
Typically offered: Fall Even Year
Gene discovery. Genomic selection. Data analysis. Phenotypes/DNA markers. Parametric/non parametric linkage analysis. Mapping quantitative trait loci (QTL). Parentage testing. prereq: [Stat 3021 or equiv], [Biol 4003 or equiv]
BIOC 5361 - Microbial Genomics and Bioinformatics
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Introduction to genomics. Emphasizes microbial genomics. Sequencing methods, sequence analysis, genomics databases, genome mapping, prokaryotic horizontal gene transfer, genomics in biotechnology, intellectual property issues. Hands-on introduction to UNIX shell scripting, genomic data analysis using R and Excel in a computer lab setting. prereq: College-level courses in [organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology]
CSCI 5481 - Computational Techniques for Genomics
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall
Techniques to analyze biological data generated by genome sequencing, proteomics, cell-wide measurements of gene expression changes. Algorithms for single/multiple sequence alignments/assembly. Search algorithms for sequence databases, phylogenetic tree construction algorithms. Algorithms for gene/promoter and protein structure prediction. Data mining for micro array expression analysis. Reverse engineering of regulatory networks. prereq: 4041 or instr consent
EEB 5221 - Molecular Evolution
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Periodic Fall
Molecular basis of evolutionary change. Selection, neutral evolutionary processes at molecular level. Evolution from gene to genome level: protein structure/function, multigene families, organelle genomes, genome organization. Lectures, current literature, workshops. prereq: [[BIOL 4003 or GCD 3022], grad student]] or instr consent
AGRO 5021 - Plant Breeding Principles
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall
This course is intended for advanced undergraduate students and graduate students that are either: 1) not plant breeding majors who will benefit from a basic understanding of how genetics is applied to plant improvement; or 2) plant breeding majors lacking prior coursework in plant breeding. The objective of this course is to develop an understanding of the underlying principles, ideas, and concepts important to applying genetic principles to plant breeding, evaluating breeding methods, and enhancing genetic progress and efficiency.
GCD 5036 - Molecular Cell Biology
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall
Modern, integrative approaches combining cell/molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics to investigate cell organization/function. Membranes, signaling, extracellular matrix, secretion, endocytosis, cytoskeleton, nucleus. Analysis of scientific papers to illustrate new concepts in and experimental approaches to cell organization/function. prereq: Biol 4004 or instr consent; [sr or grad student] recommended
GCD 8131 - Advanced Molecular Genetics and Genomics
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Literature-based course in modern molecular genetic and genomic analysis. Students will gain a deep understanding of the fundamental molecular mechanisms controlling inheritance in biological systems. Students will gain a facility in thinking critically and creatively about how genes work at cellular, organismal, and transgenerational levels. Course instruction emphasizes active-learning approaches, student presentations, and group projects. prereq: [3022 or BIOL 4003], [BIOC 3021 or BIOC 4331] or instr consent
MICA 8002 - Structure, Function, and Genetics of Bacteria and Viruses
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
Structure, function, and metabolism of microorganisms. Microbial genetics. Molecular virology. prereq: [One undergrad or grad course each in [microbiology, genetics, biochemistry]] or instr consent
AGRO 5431 - Applied Plant Genomics and Bioinformatics
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall
Analysis, interpretation, visualization of large plant genomic datasets. Basic computer programming, applying large-scale genomics to answer basic/applied biological questions, understanding limitations of each application, presenting concise visual findings from large-scale datasets. prereq: Grad student or [undergrad with genetics course]
BBE 5302 - Biodegradation of Bioproducts
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: 00808 - BBE 4302/BBE 5302/BP 4302/5302
Typically offered: Every Spring
Organisms and their importance to bio-based products: deterioration, control, bioprocesses for benefit. prereq: Grad student or instr consent
AGRO 8201 - Advanced Plant Breeding
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Agro/Hort 8201
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Fall Odd Year
Principles/current methods involved in breeding agronomic and horticultural crops. Use of genotype/environment data to increase genetic gain, population improvement, parent building, alternative selection strategies, breeding for special traits, and new approaches. prereq: STAT 5301 or equiv
PBIO 5412 - Plant Physiology and Development
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Prerequisites: Biol 2022 or Biol 3002 or Biol 3007, Biol/BioC 3021 or BioC 4331
Typically offered: Every Fall
Physiological and biochemical bases of plant systems with emphasis on higher plants. prereq: Biol 2022 or Biol 3002 or Biol 3007, Biol/BioC 3021 or BioC 4331
CSCI 5461 - Functional Genomics, Systems Biology, and Bioinformatics
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Spring
Computational methods for analyzing, integrating, and deriving predictions from genomic/proteomic data. Analyzing gene expression, proteomic data, and protein-protein interaction networks. Protein/gene function prediction, Integrating diverse data, visualizing genomic datasets. prereq: 3003 or 4041 or instr consent
PLPA 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral
Credits: 1.0 -24.0 [max 100.0]
Grading Basis: No Grade
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
(No description) prereq: Max 18 cr per semester or summer; 24 cr required
PLPA 5301 - Plant Genomics
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: 01050 - PBio 5301/PlPa 5301
Typically offered: Every Fall
Plants and model organisms. DNA sequencing, comparative genomics, genome structure and function, DNA chips/microarrays, RNA expression, gene-knockout systems, genome databases, sequence comparison/clustering algorithms, and visualization tools. prereq: Intro course in genetics or instr consent
PLPA 5300 - Current Topics in Molecular Plant Pathology
Credits: 1.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: S-N only
Typically offered: Every Spring
Interactive class. Students read, discuss, and critique publications in molecular plant pathology. Focus on articls, examining from different dimensions (underlying principles, experimental strategies, data analysis, impact on the broader discipline). prereq: instr consent
PLPA 8104 - Plant Virology
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Spring
Characteristics, biology, epidemiology, and control of plant diseases caused by viruses. prereq: 5480
PLPA 8105 - Plant Bacteriology
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Typically offered: Every Spring
For graduate students interested in bacteria that cause plant diseases. Disease cycles, epidemiology, pathogenesis, and means of disease control. The lab section will focus on techniques used to identify bacteria, for inoculating plants, and isolating bacteria from plant material. prereq: 5480
PLPA 5444 - Ecology, Epidemiology, and Evolutionary Biology of Plant-Microbe Interactions
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
Concepts and recent research in the ecology, epidemiology, and evolutionary/coevolutionary biology of plant-microbe interactions spanning the range from parasitic to mutualistic in agricultural and natural habitats. prereq: Intro plant pathology or advanced biology coursework recommended
PLPA 8104 - Plant Virology
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Spring
Characteristics, biology, epidemiology, and control of plant diseases caused by viruses. prereq: 5480
PLPA 8105 - Plant Bacteriology
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Typically offered: Every Spring
For graduate students interested in bacteria that cause plant diseases. Disease cycles, epidemiology, pathogenesis, and means of disease control. The lab section will focus on techniques used to identify bacteria, for inoculating plants, and isolating bacteria from plant material. prereq: 5480