AGRI4407 Plant and Human Nutrition

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Honours option in Agricultural Science [Bachelor of Science (Honours)]
This is an advanced unit linking soil fertility, plant nutrition and human diet. It emphasises (1) plant accumulation of macronutrients and micronutrients in edible parts and bioavailability of these nutrients in the human digestive tract; and (2) supply of antioxidants, vitamins and other health-promoting phytochemicals in edible plant parts. Special attention is paid to the balance between nutrients and antinutrients in plant-based food. Physiological mechanisms governing uptake of mineral nutrients from soil and transport to and remobilisation from non-edible into edible plant parts (particularly grains) are emphasised together with biosynthesis of phytochemicals (nutraceuticals) in edible plant tissues. Various types of biofortification (e.g. fertilisation and other agricultural measures, selection of genotypes with enhanced nutrient accumulation in edible parts, etc.) are covered. Students gain an understanding of the dynamics of nutrient cycling from soil to plants to humans, as well as the importance of nutritional food quality. While the main emphasis is on soils and plants, attention is also paid to food processing and social and health issues associated with food choice and quality.
Students are able to (1) understand processes governing cycling of macronutrients and micronutrients from soils to plants to humans; (2) understand the role of phytochemicals in a healthy diet; (3) integrate the concept of nutrient bioavailability across the soil–plant–human continuum; (4) understand agricultural and genetic means of producing food with a high content of micronutrients; (5) analyse, critically assess, present and discuss experimental data; (6) write research essays based on relevant literature; and (7) place relevant soil and plant science information in the context of healthy food production.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) a research essay based on assigned literature (70 per cent) and (2) a seminar on an assigned topic (30 per cent). Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Zed Rengel
Unit rules
enrolment in the Master of Agricultural Science (72510)
the Master of Biotechnology (71580)
the Master of Geographic Information Science (71570)
the Bachelor of Science (Honours) (BH004)
Contact hours
total workload: 150 hours; contact hours: 6 days full-time
Unit Outline
Semester 1-2020 [SEM-1-2020]
There is no end-of-semester examination in this unit. Students are assigned literature and write an essay based on that literature, supported by lectures and class discussions. Group work comprises a seminar presentation on an assigned topic linked to lecture and essay material.
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.