Plants are essential to life on Earth, providing food, generating oxygen, and absorbing carbon dioxide, and they often have medicinal properties. For this reason, it is essential that botanists study and monitor the distribution and health of plants.
For example, in field work, the botanist records the number and types of different species in a particular area, such as a wasteland, wetland, forest, or meadow.
Their results help build a local, national and global picture of the planet’s flora, including how it is affected by environmental factors, such as climate change, and the results of human activity, such as acid rain caused by industry and overgrazing of farm animals.
Some botanists travel abroad to do their work. For example, botanists visit rainforests to investigate their plant species, whether they have medicinal properties, whether they are endangered, and how quickly they are disappearing.
Botanists can use their knowledge of plant DNA to identify and classify plants, and to assess their rarity.
They may be responsible for the conservation of a particular wilderness area. In addition to laboratory work, they can also give talks, lectures and guided tours to visitors, as well as provide and display the information in a visitor center, for example.
Some botanists apply their knowledge to solve problems in agriculture and horticulture.
For example, the crossing of two plant species allows botanists to develop a hybrid plant with desirable characteristics from each of its “parents.” In the case of agriculture, the hybrid plant can be characterized by having increased resistance to drought, pests and weeds, and in the case of horticulture, it can be characterized by a more attractive petal color for an ornamental plant.
In biotechnology companies, botanists use modern genetic modification methods to modify the characteristics of plants. This means that they artificially transfer genes from one plant species to another, to add or remove certain characteristics.
For example, botanists may try to increase the crop’s resistance to disease and insects, or its tolerance to humidity and extreme temperatures.
These methods can be very beneficial for food production, especially in developing countries.
However, botanists also conduct tests to investigate the effects of new genetically modified crops on the environment and their safety for humans. For example, they are in charge of monitoring and analyzing field trials, and they investigate, for example, the interaction between new and existing genes through cross-pollination.
Botanists also work in the pharmaceutical industry, where they use their knowledge of the medicinal properties of certain plants and herbs to create new drugs. The active ingredient from aspirin, for example, is found in the bark of willow trees.
The pharmaceutical botanicals they can use traditional knowledge, as well as highly sophisticated modern methods and technologies, to develop new drugs. They can use computer programs to model the effects of a biological compound from a plant on the human body, and to test its possible efficacy if applied as a medicine.
Although much of the work of botanists is field work, for example collecting samples and analyzing experiments, much of their work is done in the laboratory, where they can use sophisticated equipment and techniques, such as electron microscopes, radioisotopes, and imaging. by satellite.
In some biotech companies, botanists work in teams with other scientists, such as toxicologists, pharmacologists, and biochemists. They can also control the work of a team of laboratory technicians.
During field work, on the other hand, the botanist can be self-employed for a long time.