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Plant and Environmental Biotechnology Program

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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
Email: 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

Participating Faculty

J. S. Hu, PhD—transgenetic disease resistance
D. Jenkins, PhD—biosensors
C. M. Kinoshita, PhD—bioremediation
A. R. Kuehnle, PhD—genetic engineering and tissue culture
P. S. Leung, PhD—biotechnology economics
Q. Li, PhD—environmental biochemistry
P. Nerurkar, PhD—metabolic disorders, signal transduction, alternative medicine
W. W. Su, PhD—cell culture, biochemical engineering
T. Sylva, PhD—bioremediation
A. Wieczorek, PhD—molecular systematics, public education on biotechnology
J. Yang, PhD—animal molecular biology and biotechnology
J. Zhu, PhD—plant and biotechnology transformation biotechnology

Degrees Offered: BS in plant and environmental biotechnology

Program Goals

  • To provide education leading to biotechnology literacy;
  • To provide training in the emerging field of biotechnology;
  • To ensure training is broad based;
  • To ensure students will be able to work as members of interdisciplinary teams; and
  • 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 Plant and Environmental Biotechnology program (PEB) 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 Manoa and the college.

Among the courses they must include in these requirements are:

  • PHYS 100/100L or 151/151L; 152/152L
  • CHEM 161/161L; 162/162L; 272/272L
  • BIOL 171/171L; 172/172L; 275/275L
  • MATH 215 (Applied Calculus I) or 241 (Calculus I)
  • NREM 220
  • NREM 310 (Statistics in Agriculture and Human Resources)
  • Foreign languages or options
In addition, students must complete the following major core requirements:
  • MBBE/BIOL 304 (Biotechnology: Science and Ethical)
  • ANSC 446 (Genes and Animal Biology) or PEPS/TPSS 371 (Genetics: Theory to Application)
  • MBBE/BIOL 401 (Molecular Biotechnology)
  • MBBE 402/402L (Principles of Biotechnology)
  • MBBE/PEPS/TPSS 499 (Directed Research)
  • 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 I)
  • MICR 351/351L (Biology of Microorganisms/Lab)
  • MBBE 412 (Environmental Biochemistry)
  • MICR 485/485L (Microbes and Their Environment)
  • 15-19 credits from among GEOG 101/101L, BIOL 124/124L, CHEM 274/274L, PEPS 405, BIOL/MBBE 406 and BIOL 406L, BE 431, MICR 431/431L, MICR 461/461L, MICR 475/475L, 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

  • PEPS 405 (Plant Pathogens and Diseases)
  • TPSS 440 (Tissue Culture/Transformation)
  • TPSS 453 (Plant Breeding and Genetics)
  • BOT/TPSS 470/470L (Plant Physiology)
  • 13 credits from among BIOL 265/265L, MET/OCN/OEST 310/310L, BOT 410, 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 406/406L (Cellular Biology)
  • BIOL 407 (Molecular Biology)
  • 18 credits from among CHEM 273/273L, MET/OCN/OEST 310/310L, MICR 351/351L, MBBE/PEPS 403, TPSS 440, ANSC/OCN 450, TPSS 453, MICR 461, MICR 475, MICR 485/485L, 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/MBBE 412 (Environmental Biochemistry)
  • PEPS 421 (Foundations of Pest Management)
  • 13-14 credits from among MBBE/PEPS 403, 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

  • ZOOL 320/320L (Vertebrate Zoology)
  • BE 431 (Environmental Biotechnology)
  • ANSC 446 (Genes and Animal Biology)
  • 16-20 credits from among OCN 201, OCN 331, ZOOL 475/475L, MBBE/PEPS/TPSS 499 additional credits beyond 3

PEPS Courses