Plant Biology, Bachelor of Science College of Biological Sciences

The Major Program

As organisms that sequester carbon and convert solar energy into oxygen, sugar and other usable forms, plant are a primary source of food and myriad biomaterials on the planet and function as an important buffer against climate change. The Plant Biology major focuses on fundamental aspects of how plants function as organisms and interact with their environment, and the use of this knowledge to address global challenges. A wide variety of scientific disciplines are integrated within the Plant Biology major, including physiology, cell and molecular biology, development, genetics and genomics.

The Program

The Plant Biology major consists of a biological sciences core covering the general principles of biology plus three plant-specific classes dealing with advanced aspects of plant biology including physiology, development, and anatomy. Electives allow students to tailor the degree to suit their interests. Independent research in a laboratory setting is a requirement, and students in the Plant Biology B.S. major are guaranteed this opportunity. Because of the value of plants as a model system for research in molecular genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry, Plant Biology also can make an excellent minor or second major for student in these fields.

Career Alternatives

A degree in Plant Biology serves as an excellent launching point for a wide range of career options, including domestic and international opportunities in business, research, management, and teaching in both governmental and private sectors. The program is excellent preparation for students wishing to enter graduate or other professional schools, including medicine, law (particularly environmental or patent law) or journalism. Plant biologists can work in the laboratory, in the field, in the forest, in botanical gardens or nurseries, in agricultural companies, or in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, energy or chemical industries, or in the area of environmental protection.

Honors & Honors Programs

Students on the honors list may elect to include a maximum of 5 units of 194H in their major programs. For Dean's Honors List information, see the Honors &​ Prizes for the appropriate College section.

Faculty Advisor

Philipp Zerbe, Ph.D.

Graduate Study

Consult Plant Biology (Graduate Group).

Preparatory Subject Matter
Biological Science15
Introduction to Biology: Essentials of Life on Earth
and Introduction to Biology: Principles of Ecology & Evolution
and Introduction to Biology: Biodiversity & the Tree of Life
Choose the 002 series or 004 series:15
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry
and General Chemistry
General Chemistry for the Physical Sciences & Engineering
and General Chemistry for the Physical Sciences & Engineering
and General Chemistry for the Physical Sciences & Engineering
Choose the 008 or 118 series: 16-12
Organic Chemistry: Brief Course
and Organic Chemistry: Brief Course
Organic Chemistry for Health & Life Sciences
and Organic Chemistry for Health & Life Sciences
and Organic Chemistry for Health & Life Sciences
Choose the 017 series or 021 series: 28-12
Calculus for Biology & Medicine
and Calculus for Biology & Medicine
and Calculus for Biology & Medicine
and Calculus
General Physics
and General Physics
and General Physics
Preparatory Subject Matter Subtotal56-66
Depth Subject Matter
Biological Sciences
BIS 101Genes & Gene Expression4
BIS 104Cell Biology3
BIS 105Biomolecules & Metabolism3-6
or BIS 102
BIS 103
Structure & Function of Biomolecules
and Bioenergetics & Metabolism
STA 100Applied Statistics for Biological Sciences4
Plant Biology
PLB 105Developmental Plant Anatomy5
PLB 111Plant Physiology3
PLB 112Plant Growth & Development3
Research Internship
Choose 3 units:3
Special Study for Undergraduates
Special Study for Advanced Undergraduates
OR Equivalent
Restricted Electives
Upper division courses in plant biology or other fields relevant to the student's interest chosen from the course lists below. Students should consult with a BASC advisor for approval of courses that may qualify as “restricted electives” in consultation with the faculty master advisor who will grant approval or denial at their discretion.15
Depth Subject Matter Subtotal43-46
Course Lists
Total Units99-112

With BASC advisor approval, these combinations also satisfy the Organic Chemistry requirement: CHE 118A-008B; CHE 128A-128B-008B; CHE 128A-118B-118C; CHE 128A-128B-129A-118C; CHE 118A-128B-128C-129A-129B; CHE 118A-118B-128C-129B.


With BASC advisor approval, this combination also satisfies the Mathematics requirement: MAT 021A-017B-017C.


ESP 121Population Ecology4
ESP 123Introduction to Field & Laboratory Methods in Ecology4
ESP 151Limnology4
ESP 151LLimnology Laboratory3
ESP 155Wetland Ecology4
ESP 155LWetland Ecology Laboratory3
EVE 101Introduction to Ecology4
EVE 131Human Genetic Variation & Evolution3
EVE 138Ecology of Tropical Latitudes5
HYD 124Plant-Water-Soil Relationships4
PLB 117Plant Ecology4
PLB 119Population Biology of Invasive Plants & Weeds3
PLP 150Fungal Ecology3
PLS 112Forage Crop Production3
PLS 130Rangelands: Ecology, Conservation & Restoration3
PLS 131Identification & Ecology of Grasses2
PLS 144Trees & Forests4

Evolution & Diversity

BIS 180LGenomics Laboratory5
BIS 181Comparative Genomics3
EVE 100Introduction to Evolution4
EVE 102Population & Quantitative Genetics4
EVE 108Systematics & Evolution of Angiosperms5
EVE 140Paleobotany4
EVE 149Evolution of Ecological Systems4
PLB 102California Floristics5
PLB 108Systematics & Evolution of Angiosperms5
PLB 116Plant Morphology & Evolution5
PLB 143Evolution of Crop Plants4
PLB 148Introductory Mycology4
PLS 131Identification & Ecology of Grasses2

Plant Genetics

BIS 180LGenomics Laboratory5
BIS 181Comparative Genomics3
BIS 183Functional Genomics3
EVE 100Introduction to Evolution4
EVE 102Population & Quantitative Genetics4
MCB 164Advanced Eukaryotic Genetics3
PLB 113Molecular & Cellular Biology of Plants3
PLP 123Plant-Virus-Vector Interaction3
PLS 152Plant Genetics4

Plant Physiology, Development, & Molecular Biology

BIS 180LGenomics Laboratory5
BIS 181Comparative Genomics3
BIS 183Functional Genomics3
BIT 160Principles of Plant Biotechnology3
BIT 161AGenetics & Biotechnology Laboratory6
BIT 161BPlant Genetics & Biotechnology Laboratory4
MCB 126Plant Biochemistry3
PLB 113Molecular & Cellular Biology of Plants3
PLB 126Plant Biochemistry3
PLP 123Plant-Virus-Vector Interaction3
PLP 130Fungal Biology & Disease3
PLS 157Physiology of Environmental Stresses in Plants4
PLS 158Mineral Nutrition of Plants4