Botany is the study of multicellular organisms, or plants, which perform photosynthesis by taking the energy offered by sunlight and using it to create food for themselves. As a branch of zoology, botany can be called either plant physiology or plant anatomy. Botany involves a wide array of scientific disciplines that study how plants grow, develop, reproduce, compete with other organisms, manage environmental stresses and survive the natural environmental aspects of their lives. The study of these aspects in plants forms the basis of botanical knowledge and classification, which in turn forms the basis of plant conservation and management.
A botany degree program will provide the necessary training to work in a variety of settings. The range of career options available to graduates is wide. Students can choose to work in a laboratory of a university or in an ornamental landscape maintenance program. Others may want to enter the business world, and some even opt for careers in the academic world of research. The choice of career depends largely on the area of study of the botanist.
Branches of Botany
There are two main branches of study in botany: marine and freshwater. Those interested in working with both algae and fungi will have to obtain a Botany degree in either of these fields. Freshwater botanists monitor aquatic plants and determine the type and amount of algae present, and the environmental conditions that allow them to flourish. They determine the distribution and abundance of algae and take steps to control their numbers. For this field, a graduate student will require training under a professional who has both academic and vocational qualifications.
In the case of a plant scientist, the study of plants also includes plant anatomy, physiology, and growth habits. The field of botany does not begin with determining what types of algae are present. Instead, the botanists must study each plant’s reproductive system so they can fully understand its processes. They will be required to grow and specimen the plant, and record data on growth and environment. After studying plant anatomy thoroughly, the botanists will be ready to write a report on their findings.
Plant physiologists are concerned with how living things are structured and function. This is the branch of botany that studies how plants grow and survive. They will study how plants grow from underground stems, how they reproduce, and what they can do to protect themselves against external environmental stresses such as drought or pollution. Many botanists study these living things under controlled environments to better understand how they work and what they can do for living things. They will use their findings to create new types of crops or medicines.
Study of Fungi
The study of fungi is a specialized branch of botany that only involves study of fungi. Fungi are organisms that secrete toxins as their reproductive and sexual capabilities. The study of fungi is important to farmers, as they help control soil erosion and improve air quality. Biochemists and agriculturists study the actions of fungi on plants to better understand their development and the actions that they take during photosynthesis and other processes. They will also be involved in creating drugs to combat fungi and algae.
Whether you study a type of plant or a group of plants, a few types of botany stand out as special. These include coniferous plants (which include spruces and Fir), broad leaf plants (including meadow grasses, crocus, and stinging nettles), gymnosporians (which include salicylates and Amphibia), cormorants (which include Cymbidium and Decaminobacterium), aquatic algae (which include Cryptocoryne and Chlorophyllum), wind-swept trees (which include, possibly without names, such as Acacia, Cypress, and Juniper), and, oddly enough, the desert fruit (which includes Papaya, Pomegranate, and Grapes). Not every study of plants is directly concerned with these fungi, but the study of many fungi is an integral part of botany.
Botanists have found fungi in almost every kind of plant, so much so that some specialists consider all plants of the same species to be fungi. Fungal study has provided knowledge about the ecology of plant life, the relationships between fungi and other organisms in the environment, and the mechanisms involved in the growth and spread of fungi. Without fungi, plant agriculture would not be possible.