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Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Interdepartmental Graduate Program

Contact the MCDB Interdepartmental Graduate Program Coordinator:


Phone: (515) 294-7252

Undergraduate Study

A special program in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology is not offered for the baccalaureate. Undergraduates wishing to prepare for graduate study in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology should elect courses in biochemistry, biology, genetics, microbiology; and mathematics through calculus; chemistry through organic; and one year of physics.

The following are recommended to undergraduates desiring an introduction to this area:

BIOL 313Principles of Geneticsarr †
BIOL 313LGenetics Laboratoryarr †
BIOL 314Principles of Molecular Cell Biologyarr †
† Arranged with instructor.


Graduate Study

Work is offered for the master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees with a major in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology in several cooperating departments: Agronomy; Animal Science; Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology; Biomedical Sciences; Chemistry; Chemical and Biological Engineering; Entomology; Food Science and Human Nutrition; Genetics, Development and Cell Biology; Horticulture; Physics & Astronomy; Plant Pathology; Veterinary Microbiology & Preventive Medicine; and Veterinary Pathology. Facilities and qualified faculty are available in these departments for conducting fundamental research in the various aspects of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. Ongoing research projects include molecular and cellular studies of viral, prokaryotic, plant, and animal systems.

Students may enter the MCDB major in one of two ways: they may apply to and be accepted into the major directly or they may formally apply to the major after being accepted by a participating department. Students admitted into MCDB will take MCDB 697 Graduate Research Rotation in their first two semesters and choose a major professor from the participating faculty by the end of their second semester. Students admitted by a department will choose a major professor from the participating faculty in that department. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4



Curriculum Requirements for MCDB Graduate Students Seeking a Doctoral Degree

All graduate students majoring in MCDB are required to complete a core curriculum consisting of:

Two semester sequence of Biochemistry (either BBMB 404/405 or BBMB 501/502)
BBMB 404Biochemistry Iarr †
BBMB 405Biochemistry IIarr †
BBMB 501Comprehensive Biochemistry Iarr †
BBMB 502Comprehensive Biochemistry IIarr †
† Arranged with instructor.


All Ph.D. students must take one course from each of the following areas (Cellular Biology, Developmental Biology, & Molecular Biology).

A. Cellular Biology

BBMB 645Molecular Signalingarr †
B M S 575Cell Biologyarr †
GDCB 528Advances in Molecular Cell Biologyarr †
GDCB 529Plant Cell Biologyarr †
† Arranged with instructor.


B. Developmental Biology

GDCB 512Plant Growth and Developmentarr †
GDCB 533Principles of Developmental Biologyarr †
† Arranged with instructor.


C. Molecular Biology

BBMB 676Biochemistry of Gene Expression in Eucaryotesarr †
GDCB 511Molecular Geneticsarr †
GDCB 545Plant Molecular Biologyarr †
GDCB 520Genetic Engineeringarr †
MICRO 502Microbial Genetics and Genomicsarr †
V MPM 608Molecular Virologyarr †
† Arranged with instructor.


In addition to the above course requirements, MCDB graduate students are required to take two semesters of research seminar every year.  One of these seminars must be MCDB 698, Seminar in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.  In seminar, students will make journal and research presentations and attend MCDB seminars.  Subject to approval by the POS committee, acceptable alternatives to fulfill the second seminar requirement include 1) a "for credit" research seminar series offered by the student's home department, 2) a 1 credit special topics course comprised of a series of research seminars, 3) a workshop comprised of a research seminar series, or 4) another ISU research seminar series. 


Not required, but highly recommended for MCDB Graduate students

BCB 544Introduction to Bioinformaticsarr †
† Arranged with instructor.


Non-native English speakers must pass the English Requirement as established by the university.  Depending on the results of this exam additional courses may be required to meet English proficiency standards. 

All graduate students are required to teach one semester as part of their training for an advanced degree.  Students whose first language is not English must take and pass the SPEAK/TEACH test. 

M.S. students must take the above core curriculum but may delete either the molecular genetics, cell biology, or developmental biology component.

Additional coursework may be selected to meet departmental requirements and/or to satisfy individual student research interests.


Courses primarily for graduate students, open to qualified undergraduates:

MCDB 511. Molecular Genetics.

(Cross-listed with GDCB). (3-0) Cr. 3. S. Prereq: BIOL 313 and BBMB 405
The principles of molecular genetics: gene structure and function at the molecular level, including regulation of gene expression, genetic rearrangement, and the organization of genetic information in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

MCDB 512. Plant Growth and Development.

(Cross-listed with GDCB, PLBIO). (2-0) Cr. 2. S. Prereq: BIOL 330 or a course in developmental biology; GDCB 545 or BBMB 404, BBMB 405 or GDCB 520
Plant growth and development and its molecular genetic regulation. Hormone biosynthesis, metabolism, and action. Signal transduction in plants.

MCDB 520. Genetic Engineering.

(Cross-listed with BBMB, GDCB). (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. S., offered 2012. Prereq: GEN 411 or BBMB 405
Strategies and rationale of recombinant DNA technologies. The methodology of genetic engineering in basic research and implications for applied research will be considered. Topics include: basic tools of molecular cloning, targeted mutagenesis, fluorescent proteins, protein expression systems, and transgenic model systems.

MCDB 528. Advances in Molecular Cell Biology.

(Cross-listed with GDCB). (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. F., offered 2012. Prereq: Courses in general cell biology and biochemistry
Cell biological processes including cell signaling, cell division, intracellular trafficking, biogenesis of organelles, cell adhesion and motility.

MCDB 529. Plant Cell Biology.

(Cross-listed with GDCB). (2-0) Cr. 2. Alt. F., offered 2011. Prereq: BIOL 313, BIOL 314, BIOL 330 or BBMB 405
Organization, function, and development of plant cells and subcellular structures.

MCDB 533. Principles of Developmental Biology.

(Cross-listed with GDCB). (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. F., offered 2011. Prereq: BIOL 314
Fundamental principles in multicellular development. Emphasis on cellular and molecular regulation of developmental processes, and experimental approaches as illustrated in classical studies and current literature.

MCDB 545. Plant Molecular Biology.

(Cross-listed with GDCB, PLBIO). (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. F., offered 2011. Prereq: BIOL 314, BIOL 330
Organization and function of plant nuclear and organelle DNA; regulation of gene expression. Methods of generating novel genetic variation. Impact of plant biotechnology on agriculture.

MCDB 590. Special Topics.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.

Courses for graduate students:

MCDB 676. Biochemistry of Gene Expression in Eucaryotes.

(Cross-listed with BBMB). (2-0) Cr. 2. Alt. S., offered 2012. Prereq: BBMB 404 or BBMB 501, BBMB 405 or BBMB 502 or GDCB 511
Analysis of the biochemical processes involved in expression of eucaryotic genes and the regulation thereof, including RNA polymerase, transcriptional regulatory proteins, enhancers and silencers, chromosome structure, termination, RNA processing, RNA transport, RNA turnover, small RNAs translational regulation, protein turnover.

MCDB 697. Graduate Research Rotation.

Cr. 1-6. Repeatable. F.S.
Graduate research projects performed under the supervision of selected faculty members in the molecular, cellular, and developmental biology program.

MCDB 698. Seminar in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.

(Cross-listed with BBMB, GDCB, MICRO, V MPM). (2-0) Cr. 1-2. Repeatable. F.S.
Student and faculty presentations.

MCDB 699. Research.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.