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Plant and Environmental Biotechnology Program

Gilmore 211
3050 Maile Way
Honolulu, HI 96822-2279

Tel: (808) 956-6997
Fax: (808) 956-3706
E-mail: acadaff@ctahr.hawaii.edu
Web: www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/ctahr2001/CTAHRCatalog/peb.html

Biotechnology Area Advisory Committee

H. Ako, PhD (Coordinator)—biochemistry, aquaculture
A. M. Alvarez, PhD—bacterial diseases
D. Borthakur, PhD—molecular genetics of bacteria and their interactions with plants
D. A. Christopher, PhD—plant molecular biology, regulation of gene expression
R. M. Manshardt, PhD—tropical fruit breeding and genetics
S. H. Saul, PhD—insect genetics

Participating Faculty

A. Brown, PhD—complementary medicine, botanicals, herbs
D. Dooley, PhD—biotechnology education
J. S. Hu, PhD—transgenetic disease resistance
A. R. Kuehnle, PhD—genetic engineering and tissue culture
M. Kumagi, PhD—viral transfection systems
P. S. Leung, PhD—biotechnology economics
Q. Li, PhD—environmental biochemistry
R. E. Paull, PhD—tropical fruit biotechnology
J. Seifert, PhD—molecular toxicology
W. W. Su, PhD—cell culture, biochemical engineering
J. P. Szyper, PhD—marine biotechnology
C. S. Tang, PhD—biochemistry of natural products
A. Wieczorek, PhD—molecular systematics, public education on biotechnology
P. Nerurkar, PhD—metabolic disorders, signal transduction

Degrees Offered: BS in plant and environmental biotechnology

Program Goals

  • To provide education leading to biotechnology literacy.
  • To provide training in the emerging scientific concepts underpinning biotechnology.
  • To ensure training is broad based.
  • To ensure students will be able to work as members of interdisciplinary teams.
  • To staff Hawai‘i’s emerging biotechnology industries.

The Academic Program

During the past decade, biotechnology has brought about major changes in agricultural sciences and society. The interdepartmental Plant and Environmental Biotechnology program is designed to train undergraduate students for careers in new and growing areas of the life sciences emphasizing the use of biotechnology in agriculture, environmental clean-up and management, industry, teaching, and other professions. The program provides a strong foundation in molecular biology, biochemisty, genetics, biotechnology, and the life sciences. It serves as excellent and rigorous training for graduate and professional school.

Students tailor the major to meet their needs by choosing one of the specializations as their focus of study: Environmental and Microbial Biotechnology, Plant Biotechnology, Insect and Pathogen Biotechnology, General Biotechnology, or Aquaculture and Bioreactor Biotechnology. Students participate in hands-on laboratory courses culminating in research and a senior thesis. Students could work as genetic engineers developing more nutritious, pest resistant, or otherwise superior crops by genetic engineering. Students can learn molecular diagnostic methods such as PCR, DNA finger-printing, gene mapping, and protein analysis. They could also be restoring parts of the environment by bioremediation, working in the marine biotechnology industry, or entering graduate or professional school.

Undergraduate Study

BS in Plant and Environmental Biotechnology


Students must fulfill the General Education Requirements of UH Mânoa and the college.

Among the courses they must include in these requirements are:

  • NREM 310 (statistics)
  • MATH 215 or MATH 241 (calculus)
  • Foreign languages or options
  • BIOL 171/171L; 172/172L; 275/275L
  • CHEM 161/161L; 162/162L; 272/272L
  • PHYS 100/100L or 151/151L; 152/152L
  • NREM 220
  • SP 151

In addition, students must complete the following major core requirements:

  • MBBE 201 (biotechnology issues and impacts)
  • MBBE 401 (molecular biotechnology)
  • MBBE 402/402L (biochemistry)
  • PEPS 371 (genetics)
  • MBBE/PEPS/TPSS 499 (lab rotation)
  • MBBE/PEPS/TPSS 499 (senior thesis)

Finally, students must specialize in one of the five options below. They must take the courses indicated.

The Environmental and Microbial specialization prepares students for employment in teaching, industry, and government activities dealing with environmental monitoring, clean-up, and quality. The specialization also prepares students for graduate education in the environmental sciences.

Required Courses:

  • CHEM 272/272L (organic chemistry)
  • MBBE 412 (environmental biochemistry)
  • MICR 351/351L (biology of microbes)
  • MICR 485/485L (microbes in environment)
  • 15-19 credits from among GEOG 101/101L, BIOL 124/124L, CHEM 274/274L, PEPS/MBBE 403, CHEM 445, BE 431, MBBE 420, PEPS 480, MICR 475/475L, MICR 461/461L, PEPS 405, MICR 431/431L, BIOL 406/406L, PEPS/MBBE 403, MBBE/PEPS/TPSS 499 additional credits beyond 3

The Plant Biotechnology specialization uses the tools of molecular biology, genetics, and tissue culture to learn how plant cells work and to develop plants with improved traits. The specialization prepares students to enter the plant and agricultural biotechnology industries, various government agencies, or to pursue an advanced professional degree or a teaching career.

Required Courses:

  • BIOL 102/102L (botany)
  • BOT/TPSS 470/470L (plant physiology)
  • TPSS 453 (plant breeding)
  • TPSS 440 (tissue culture/transformation)
  • PEPS 405 (plant pathogens and diseases)
  • 13 credits from among BOT 410, BIOL 124/124L, BIOL 265/265L. OCN 310/310L, MBBE/PEPS/TPSS 499 additional credits beyond 3

The General Biotechnology specialization is for students who want a broader background covering a variety of different areas of biotechnology. This specialization will prepare students for careers in industry and government but may also be the best preparation for teaching or pursuing advanced graduate and professional degrees.

Required Courses:

  • BIOL 407 (molecular biology)
  • MBBE 420 (plant molecular biology)
  • BIOL 406/406L (cellular biology)
  • 18 credits from among MICR 485/485L, MICR 351/351L, ENTO 470, CHEM 273/273L, MICR 475, TPSS 440, TPSS 453, MICR 461, OCN 310/310L, ANSC 450, PEPS/MBBE 403, PEPS/MBBE 404, MBBE/PEPS/TPSS 499 additional credits beyond 3

The Insect and Pathogen specialization prepares students for academic or industrial careers that integrate the traditional disciplines of entomology and plant pathology. The goal is to develop environmentally safe technologies to protect plants and agriculture from pest and pathogen attack.

Required Courses:

  • PEPS 363 (general entomology)
  • PEPS 405 (plant pathogens and disease)
  • PEPS 421 (pest management)
  • PEPS 470 (forensic entomology)
  • MBBE 412 (environmental biochemistry)
  • 13-14 credits from among PEPS 462, PEPS 403, PEPS 404, MBBE/PEPS/TPSS 499 additional credits beyond 3

The Aquaculture and Bioreactor specialization prepares students to participate in the increasingly technology-driven areas of bio-based industries such as aquaculture, marine biotechnology, and large-scale production of valuable organisms and compounds for the agricultural, food, pharmaceutical, and medical industries. The specialization prepares students to enter commercial, university, or government jobs directly, to become entrepreneurs, or to continue on for further graduate training.

Required Courses:

  • ZOO 320/320L (vertebrate zoology)
  • BE 431 (biological pollution control)
  • BE 460 (bioreactor design and analysis)
  • 16-20 credits from among OCN 201, OCN 331, ANSC 360, ZOO 475/475L, ANSC 430, BE 436, ANSC 460, MBBE/PEPS/TPSS 499 additional credits beyond 3