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The area of botany can best be defined as “the scientific study of plants, including their physiology, structure, genetics, ecology, distribution, classification, and economic importance”. Therefore, a botanist would be a person whose entire career is devoted to learning more about plants, how they reproduce, how to cross-breed them, and how to efficiently make use of them in our daily lives.

There are basically three topics covered by botany:

Core topics are fundamental natural phenomena and processes of plant life. They involve divisions of botany such as cytology, epigenetics, plant genetics, and plant taxonomy, to name a few.

Applied topics are used to study the ways in which plants can be used for economic benefit in agriculture and forestry. Some examples of applied topics are biotechnology, dendrology, forestry, and horticulture.

Organismal topics contain a focus on plant groups such as algae, mosses, or flowering plants. These would include mycology, phycology (study of algae), and bryology (study of mosses and liverworts).

Students can receive a bachelor's or master’s degree in the area of botany from many colleges and universities across the world. Depending on the school, there are required courses for general degrees - students will also elect courses based on their interests.

Some of the courses offered for a botany degree are:

  • Plant diversity
  • Principles of biology
  • Chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physics
  • Genetics
  • Evolution
  • Plant taxonomy
  • Plant ecology
  • Local flora
  • Climate change biology
  • Fungal biology
  • Environment, food, and society
  • Plant chromosomes and genomes
  • Plant breeding

Students who wish to pursue botany as a career choice have an unlimited potential for application of the skills learned in school. With recent advances in the field, such as plant hybridization and genetic manipulation, there are essentially opportunities to grow new species of flora that could withstand dramatic changes in our environmental landscape. Watch this TED video for information about how one division of botany is attempting to store plant seeds now so they may be utilized later.

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