Specialisation Plant adaptation

This specialisation focuses on the changes that different plants have optimally acquired for themselves to adjust to different conditions.

What will you learn?

You learn to understand the regulatory processes in plants. Think of endogenous signals that control the development of a plant organ. Or the processing of signals from the environment. You can choose to delve into the technology to study cellular processes. For example, you learn to use microscopic techniques and digital image processing on relevant information.

You examine common adaptation strategies by genetic analyses. Or learn about general characteristics of plant adaptation. This depends on mechanisms such as stress-specific changes in anatomy and morphology. Also you can research the optimization of crop yield by applying your physiological knowledge.


If you choose this specialisation, you in any case follow the course Regulation of plant development (MOB), in which the molecular and cell biological aspects of developmental processes in plants stand central. In addition, you choose a course from one of the following:

  • Cell Biology and Advanced Imaging Technologies (PCB) in which you learn about light microscopy and reporter gene techniques to study dynamic processes in living cells;
  • Advanced crop physiology (CSA) in which you gain physiological knowledge about crops under different conditions and learn to apply this knowledge, for example, on how to improve yields;
  • Plant plasticity and adaptation (PPH), in which you learn about the specific adaptations of plants and understand the plasticity and dynamics of plant architecture;
  • Genetic analysis, tools and concepts (GEN) whereby you learn to perform genetic data analysis using your understanding of genetic concepts at a chromosomal and molecular level.

Thesis and internship

In the second year you will start your own research (thesis) at one of the following chair groups:

You can find examples of thesis subjects at the bottom of this page.  

In the second half of your second year you will go on an internship. This can be a project at a company or organization outside Wageningen University. Recently, a student following this specialisation has done the following internship:

  • Resistance of Cucumis sativus (cucumber) against the cotton aphid, Aphis gossypii (Nunhems seeds)

Thesis examples

In the second year of the master's programme you will start your own research (thesis) at one of the chair groups. Beneath you will find examples of thesis subjects.

Chair group Crop systems analysis

  • Leaf photosynthesis: measurement and modelling
  • Physiological and genetic modelling of genotype-by-environment interactions

Chair group Genetics

  • Changes in nuclear structure duuring wheat endosperm development
  • Arabidopsis natural variation: functional analysis of genes contolling adaption

Chair group Molecular biology

  • Moleculair biologische processen in hogere planten
  • Arabidopsis thaliana transcription factors bZIP19 and bZIP23 regulate the adaptation to zinc deficiency

Chair group Plant cell biology

  • Rates od exocytosis and endocytosis in Arabidopsis root hairs and pollen tubes
  • Differential effects of temperature on stem length and xylem vessel length distribution in Zinnia

Chair group Plant physiology

  • Physiological control of plant growth: a role for the clock?
  • Multistress responses of plants