Botany

How to become a Botanist



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To become a botanist you need first and foremost a love of plants and a curious mind.
Plants are amazing, pure and simple. They are found in every habitat on earth and adapt to live in the very harshest of places. From hydrophytes which live in or partially in water, hygrophytes, which live in damp , shady conditions, to xerophytes, which live in dry,hot areas of the world, plants have adapted and in many case, changed their habitat by their actions to enable them to survive.

Once you find out just a little about plants, you want to know more.

Photosynthesis - the use of molecules of water and oxygen to create sugars for food is just one process which is intriguing and astounding. The plant makes use of the primary energy source - sunlight- to gain energy for this process. two stages - the light and dark phase are needed for the process to be successful so, for plants, the amount of darkness they receive is as important as light. Respiration - which occurs in the little powerhouses in the cells (mitochondria) oxidizes this stored energy to enable the plant to grow and carry out all functions.

Plants put an incredible percentage of their energy into their flowers and reproduction to ensure propagation and pioneer plants -those plants which first inhabit an area of barren ground will actually change their habitat by root penetration, the production of chemicals and waste material, to change the habitat making it suitable for other plants and eventually animals.

We use many attributes of plants from their glorious flowers and scents -designed to attract pollinators - to food stores -tubers and fruits designed to provide stored food for the plants and ensure seed dispersal.

Plants can provide incredible discoveries for us including pharmaceutical products derived from plants' natural protective chemicals against diseases. We can manipulate them generically to create plants which will provide more reliable crops with increased vigor, resistance to disease and even to include chemicals to aid disease prevention in humans.

The interaction of plants with insects, other animals and eventually us is paramount to their commercial use and development and the science of botany is at the forefront of developing species and hybrids which will resolve some of the poor crop problems in third world countries.

A leaf - probably the simplest organ we associate with plants- can be adapted to be a tendril for climbing, a spine to prevent water loss and the plant being eaten, even enlarged to provide storage organs like bulbs.

Flowers are adapted to attract pollinators from insects to bats and moths. Many have developed sweet nectaries to do this and powerful scents to attract animals in deep forested conditions and these properties are valuable commercially for us.

Plants have it all and we only as yet know a little about their full life cycles and amazing chemistry.

The best way to become a botanist is to do a college degree in the subject. Here you can study all the many aspects of plant life from cell biology to commercial food production and ecology. You can also take correspondence courses which will take you through plant science in modular form.
Once your curiosity begins to get the better of you you will find you want to know more and more.
Plants can always offer something new, from characteristics of different groups, evolution, dicots, monocots, angiosperms, gymnosperms and all the other plant groups, you can spend a life time learning about these wonderful co-habitors in this beautiful planet of ours.

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More about this author: Sammy Stein

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