All course information is listed within this syllabus.

TURF 850: Turfgrass Physiology (3 credits). A study of the physiology of turfgrasses and how their physiological functions can be utilized to develop the best management systems possible.

Prerequisite: TURF 425


Instructor for TURF 850

Michael Fidanza, Ph.D.
Professor, Horticulture

Penn State Berks
Luerssen Science Building, 212G
Stout Road
Reading, PA 19610

Phone (Office): 610-396-6330
E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

If you need to contact me regarding your course, the best way to reach me is through the Canvas Inbox. I will respond within 48 hours on weekdays, and by Monday on weekends.


  • B.S., Agricultural Science, The Pennsylvania State University, 1987
  • M.Agr., Agronomy, The Pennsylvania State University, 1989
  • Ph.D., Agronomy, University of Maryland, 1995

Responsibilities and Interests

Turfgrass management and turfgrass ecology; turfgrass IPM with an emphasis on weed and disease management; ornamental and landscape horticulture.

Professional Background

  • Courtesy Professor, Department of Plant Science, The Pennsylvania State University, 2002–present
  • Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences, Berks Campus, The Pennsylvania State University, 2011–present
  • Associate Professor, Berks Campus, The Pennsylvania State University, 2006–2011
  • Assistant Professor, Berks Campus, The Pennsylvania State University, 2000–2006
  • Research and Development Biologist, Aventis Environmental Science, 1999–2000
  • Field Research and Development Biologist, AgrEvo Environmental Health, 1997–1999
  • Field Development Representative, AgrEvo USA Company, 1995–1997

Selected Publications

  1. Fidanza, M.A., P.F. Colbaugh, H.B. Couch, S.D. Davis, and D.L. Sanford. 2002. Conventional and innovative methods of fairy ring management in turfgrass. Science and Golf IV:631-642.
  2. Dernoden, P.H., M.A. Fidanza, and J.M. Krouse. 1998. Low maintenance performance of five festuca species in monostands and mixtures. Crop Science 38:434-439.
  3. Fidanza, M.A. and P.H. Dernoeden. 1996. Influence of mowing height, nitrogen source, and iprodione on brown patch severity in perennial ryegrass. Crop Science 36:1620-1630.
  4. Fidanza, M.A. and P.H. Dernoeden. 1996. Brown patch severity in perennial ryegrass as influenced by irrigation, fungicide, and fertilizers. Crop Science 36:1631-1638.
  5. Fidanza, M.A., P.H. Dernoeden, and M. Zhang. 1996. Degree-days for predicting smooth crabgrass emergence in cool-season turfgrass. Crop Science 36:990-996.
  6. Fidanza, M.A., P.H. Dernoeden, and A.P. Grybauskas. 1996. Development and field validation of a brown patch warning model for perennial ryegrass turf. Phytopathology 86:385-390.
  7. Dernoden, P.H. and M.A. Fidanza. 1994. Fenoxaprop activity as influenced by auxin-like herbicide application timing. HortScience 29:1518-1519.

Course Overview

This course is designed to acquaint you with the basic principles and concepts of turfgrass physiology. Necessarily, some of the subject matter delves into basic plant science at a level that may be new to some of you. An attempt has been made to present the subject through the use of video, graphics, text, and other methods that, hopefully, will facilitate your assimilation and understanding of the material. In addition, even the most basic concepts are connected to practical applications in order to make this subject as useful in 'real-life' situations as possible.

The course is broken down as follows:

  • Turfgrass morphology and anatomy — a review
  • Germination and seedling development
  • Mature plant growth development
  • Basic chemistry - a review
  • Introduction to bioenergetics
  • In-depth coverage of photosynthesis and respiration
  • Mineral nutrition (fertilization and nutrient uptake and utilization)
  • Water relations
  • Stress physiology (environmental, mechanical, etc.)
  • Phytohormones
  • Plant-growth regulators
  • Antioxidants and biostimulants

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Materials

Required materials are available online and via electronic reserve.


The turnaround time for graded assignments is generally one week or less.


There will be five exercises throughout the course.


There will be ten quizzes throughout the course, one on each topic.


There will be a final exam worth 100 points and the exam will be comprehensive in nature.

Grading Policy

The following table is the grading criteria for the course.

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value
Exercises 100
Quizzes 100
Final Exam 100
TOTAL: 300

The following table is the grading scheme for the course.

Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 84%
B- < 84% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 77%
C < 77% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Graduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

Online Students Use of the Library

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Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it is assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the internet).
  • You must be able to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the internet.

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Accessibility Information


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Penn State Policies

Login Policy

Students are expected to log in regularly to keep up to date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Course Availability

Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

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Please read the academic integrity guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences.

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University's academic integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff, and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University's standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

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In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus' disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

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Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.

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