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Editorial Articles


Volume-1, 16-22 May 2020

Career Opportunities in Botany

Dr. Surender Kumar Bhardwaj

Botany is one of the key subjects of Life Sciences. Botany is the systematic and scientific study of plants. The core of botany is plants and it enables us to understand the interesting mechanisms of plants which include their growth and development, chemical properties, genetics, ecology, evolution etc.

PLANTS: Plants are more exciting and interesting than anyone can expect; diversity of plant life ranges from carnivorous Nepenthes species (Pitcher plant), giant stinking Rafflesia, beautiful orchids, to the towering and old Sequoia.

 

IMPORTANCE OF PLANTS: To appreciate this subject, one must understand the need for studying plants and their importance. The following are some of the benefits of plants:

 

1) Oxygen: In the process of photosynthesis plants give off oxygen as a by-product of the reaction. Oxygen is essential for our respiratory process.

 

2) Human Nutrition - In reality most food comes directly or indirectly from plants. Plants are the key base of nearly all food-chains because they use the energy from the sun and nutrients from the soil and atmosphere and convert them into a form that can be consumed and utilized by animals; this is what ecologists call the first trophic level. Botanists also study how plants produce food and how to increase yields. Botanists also study weeds, undesirable plants, especially ones that grow profusely where they are not wanted. Weeds are a considerable problem in agriculture, and botany provides some of the basic science used to understand how to minimize 'weed' impact in agriculture and native ecosystems.

 

3) Source of Medicine - Plants have been a source of medicine as well. Plants played an important role specially, in ancient civilization. Plants have been used to treat illness , some of these plants are key ingredient in some essential medicine. Examples are: Digitalis purpurea - purple foxglove from which a chemical called digitalin, a cardiac glycoside can be extracted is a cardio tonic that helps to control heart rate. Cinchona tree- an essential discovery for the extract of quinine, an anti malaria drug agent. Biology expanded greatly in the 19th century and  this trend continued at an accelerated pace in the 20th century where topics included the study of plant structure, growth and differentiation, reproduction, biochemistry and primary metabolism, chemical products, development, diseases, evolutionary relationships,  plant taxonomy etc. The dominant themes in 21st century about plant science are molecular genetics and epigenetic, which are the mechanisms and control of gene expression during differentiation of plant cells and tissues. Careers in Botany typically require a degree in plant sciences. The courses are now quite widely available across the country. The modules you may study will differ in the institutions so it is strongly advisable to check with them before submitting your application to make sure that the focus is on the subjects that you are interested in. The list of modules below will give you an idea of the kind of subjects that you may study:

Analytical and research techniques, Applied plant sciences, Biodiversity and evolution, Biostatistics, Crop protection, Ecology, Environmental plant physiology, Environmental pollution, Ethno-botany, Evolutionary biology, Flowering plants of the world, Fungal biology, Genetic manipulation, Habitats and ecosystems, Landscape studies and conservation, Lichens and Bryophytes, Life science, Marine algae, Metabolism and environmental stress, Microbial diversity, Micro-propagation, Organismal biology, Photo-biochemistry, Photosynthesis, Phytochemistry,  Plant breeding, Plant eco-physiology, Plant protection technology, Plant survival, Plant-biotic interactions, Plant-soil relationships, Seeds and germination, Soil science, Vegetative and floral development and Weed biology and control. Among the many major tracks or options in botany programs are plant physiology, ecology, plant genetics, systematic and plant pathology. Bachelor of Sciences in Botany is offered by various Universities/ Institution across India where well developed Botanical Garden exists. After completing graduation, one can opt for postgraduate level study in the same field. Doctorate level education is also offered in Botany. To get admission into B. Sc. Botany, a pass in 10+2 with science stream including Biology as a mainstream subject is required, while for the postgraduate course, students must have passed graduation in the same field.

 

Bachelor of Science in Botany (Honours)

This is three years Honours degree programme after 10+2 with biology as a main subject which is offered in some selected Colleges/ Universities having well developed infrastructure of laboratories, herbarium & Botanical Garden.

 

Master of Science in Botany

This two year graduate degree program generally requires a dissertation or research report, regardless of whether a student plans to advance to a Ph. D. degree programme. Generally, for the course of M. Sc. in Botany, one has to study the various aspects of functions and types of plants. The whole kingdom of plant and its metamorphism comes under the study of this course. Being a Master's level course, the depth and detail of the course gets more intense. Right from the various parts to their functions and specific make up is studied under the course. In order to be eligible for the course of Master of Science in Botany, one must have a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany. Common courses include: Plant Anatomy, Plant Biochemistry, Plant Biotechnology, Plant Conservation, Plant Ecology, Plant Genetics, Plant Pathology, Plant Physiology, Plant Reproduction, Plant Systematic, Economic Botany and Evolution.

 

Master of Philosophy in Botany

This is one or two year pre-doctorate degree programmes after M.Sc. degree in Botany which requires a dissertation or research report and generally divided in to two semesters. The subjects of study areas are on Basic Research Methodology & Instrumentations, Advancing Frontiers & New Vistas in Plant-Sciences and specialization of Subjects.

 

Doctor of Philosophy in Botany

Adoctorate degree primarily prepares post graduates for research careers in botany. 

 

STATUS OF UNIVERSITIES IN INDIA

There are total 935 number Universities in India out of which 50 Central Universities; 409 State Universities; 127 Deemed to be Universities and 349 Private Universities. The Colleges/ Universities having well established Botanical Garden are offering the B. Sc., M. Sc., M. Phil. & Ph. D. degree programme in Botany. Few Universities have been selected by the University Grant Commission under the Scheme of University with Potential for Excellence in Bio Sciences & related fields as mentioned below:

 

S.no

Name of the University/ Institutions

Focus Areas

1.

Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. http://www.bhu.ac.in

Genomic and Proteomics

2.

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. http://www.jnu.ac.in

Genetics, Genomics and Bio-Technology

3.

Karnataka University Dharwad

http://www.kud.ac.in

Anti Tumor Activity: An Integrated Approach

4.

Madurai Kamraj University,  Tamil Nadu http://www.mkuniversity.org

Nano Science in Biology

5.

North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong, Meghalaya http://www.nehu.ac.in

Bio-Sciences and Area Studies

6.

Pune University, Pune http://www.unipune.ac.in

Bio-Chemistry & Bio Technology

7.

University of Calcutta, Calcutta http://caluuni.ac.in

Modern Biology

8.

University of Madras, Tamil Nadu http://unom.ac.in

Herbal Science

9.

University of Mumbai, Mumbai http://mu.ac.in

Green Technology

 

JOB OPPORTUNITIES:

Education in the field of botany can open the door to many careers, most of which will involve working with plants in some capacity. Botany degrees typically have a heavy focus on biology and chemistry but are also likely to include coursework in mathematics, geology, and geography. Degrees in ecology, environmental science, or agricultural science could also be beneficial to a botany career. If you're wondering, 'where do botanists work?' here's the answer: nearly anywhere. Botanists sometimes work indoors, in laboratories or greenhouses, or outdoors, in farming fields or in forests and other wild areas across the globe. With under graduate and post graduate degree& diplomas in botany, one can easily enter into any research and teaching institution such as Botanical Survey of India (BSI), National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), National Institute of Biologicals (NIB) etc. as botanical assistant, scientific assistant, preservation assistant, research assistant, field man, herbarium keeper, or related jobs. One can take up research/ teaching in College/ University as a career with M.Sc. and Ph.D. degree in botany, horticulture or equivalent qualifications. Depending upon qualification and experience, one can serve as Curator, Superintendent, Botanist, Taxonomist, Agronomist, Ecologist, Mycologist, Plant Breeder, Horticulturists, Biophysicists or Scientists in botanical gardens, research institutions, experimental and field stations including Botanical Survey of India and other related organizations. Few of the areas which one can work with are: Chemical Industry, Food Companies, Arboretum, Forest Services, Biotechnology Firms, Oil Industry, Land Management Agencies, Seed and Nursery Companies, Plant Health Inspection Services, National Parks, Biological Supply Houses, Plant Resources Laboratory and Educational Institutions.

 

INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGISTS: Industrial ecologists are scientists who work with factories and other industrial sites to help them use resources more efficiently and prevent damage to surrounding ecosystems. An industrial ecologist might, for example, take samples from nearby waterways to determine if chemicals from a factory are leaking into rivers, and develop a plan to help filter these out to better protect local plants and wildlife. They might also help to find more environmentally sound ways of harvesting resources, such as replanting areas that have been deforested. Entering this career generally requires a bachelor's degree, although some positions may prefer a master's degree. Industrial ecologists are considered environmental scientists.

 

PLANT SCIENTISTS:

Plant scientists in agriculture use their knowledge of botany to increase crop yields, achieve greater production, minimize waste, or fight pests that reduce yield. A plant scientist might, for instance, develop a new means of ensuring soil remains fertile by alternating different crops, or search for less-damaging alternatives to pesticides.

 

SOILAND WATER CONSERVATIONISTS:

Soil and water conservationists are scientists who work to conserve natural resources. They work on plans to keep soil from being depleted of nutrients or to prevent underground aquifers from running dry. Planting trees to prevent erosion of soil by a nearby stream, for example, might help to sustain the land in an area and allow it to remain useful for many years to come. Acareer as a soil and water conservationist generally requires a bachelor's degree, particularly if it includes coursework on environmental protection and conservation.

 

HORTICULTURISTS: Horticulturists care for and develop plants of all varieties. Horticulturists might grow plants such as flowers or trees which are only intended for beautification, rather than consumption as food or raw materials. They will often create new and unique varities that help certain species better adapt to the conditions of regions. They may also focus on how different plants react when grown in proximity to one another. Techniques and breeds developed by horticulturists can be used widely in agriculture. To begin a career as a horticulturist, you will often need to hold at least a bachelor's degree, although many of positions will require a post graduate degree. Online horticulture degrees are sometimes an option.

 

(The author is associated with Department of Botany, MD University, Rohtak124001, Haryana, E-mail: skbmdu67@gmail.com) Views expressed are personal