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Botany is the area of biology that deals with plants, fungi and photosynthetic microorganisms. Humans and all other animals are dependent on green plants and algae as the main source of our food and our oxygen. Knowledge of plant biology is essential for solving some of society’s most pressing problems such as feeding our increasing population and maintaining the earth’s fragile ecosystems. Plant biology is an increasingly active research area, and the past decade has already brought major advances in understanding how plants function. Many new possibilities have been developed for the better use of plants by people, including the engineering of improved crops, weed control, plant breeding and the industrial production of plant-derived biochemicals such as anticancer drugs.
The areas of specialization within botany that address problems of importance to humans include: Plant Biotechnology which uses molecular biology to exploit the genetic and biochemical potential of plants; Plant Pathology which is the study of plant diseases. Problems relating to the chemistry, physics and control of cellular processes are considered in the fields of Biochemistry, Development and Molecular Biology. The unique aspects of whole organisms are addressed also in Plant Development (multicellular plants) and in Mycology (fungi) and Phycology (algae). Ecology deals with the interaction of plants with their environment, while Evolutionary and Systematic Botany analyzes both the processes and products of evolution.
Many botany specialists find careers in government research laboratories, hospitals, museums, environmental consulting companies, agricultural firms and, increasingly, with biotechnology research institutes and private companies. Others teach at either the secondary school or university level. Specialization in Botany or Biology at the undergraduate level is sufficient for some kinds of employment, while others require an advanced degree (M.Sc. or Ph.D.).
A student who wishes to specialize in Botany should seek advice from the Botany Undergraduate Office. Generally, a foundation in chemistry, mathematics and (usually) physics is advisable for the study of plant biology. It is also required that students take introductory courses dealing with three aspects of biology: 1) molecular/cellular (BIO250Y1), 2) organismal (BOT251Y1), and 3) ecological/evolutionary (BIO150Y1) before specializing further in a plant biology subdiscipline. The Department of Botany Undergraduate Office gives further information about courses and programs.
Associate Chair (Undergraduate):
Professor R.F. Sage, Room 2072, Earth Sciences Centre
Ms. S. Speller, Room 3055A, Earth Sciences Centre (416-978-7172)
Biogeography: see Geography
Biology: see Biology
Note: Students in these Programs are encouraged to notify the Botany
Undergraduate Office, Room 3055A, Earth Sciences Centre of their course
selections, beginning in the Second Year
Botany (Science program)
First and Second Years:
Molecular Plant Biology (Science program)
Third and Fourth Years:
Plant Physiology & Metabolism (Science program)
Note: No Plant Physiology and Metabolism Major program exists, therefore
a student may qualify for a Botany major after third year.
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