Botany is a branch of biology dealing with plants, containing several specialized fields of study. These include plant biology, applied plant sciences, organismal specialties, ethnobotany and exploration for new plant species. Within each of these fields exists even more specialized fields. Each of these is important, as plants are vital to the health of all living things.
The study of plant biology includes the study of plant anatomy, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology and physiology. Plant biologists can also study how plants are classified, a discipline that consists of taxonomy and the study of evolutionary relationships of plants. Paleobiology is the study of fossilized or ancient plants, and ecology is the study of plants and how they live in communities and contribute to nutrient cycling.
Many botanists concentrate on specific types of plants. These concentrations include the field of bryology, the study of mosses; phycology, the study of algae; and pteridology, the study of ferns. All of these specialties focus on the biology, ecology and evolution of members of the plant world.
Applied Plant Sciences
The study of applied plant sciences encompasses breeding, agricultural uses, natural resource management, food science, plant pathologies and biotechnology. All humans rely on plants, which provide us with food, housing materials, fiber for clothing and more, and the study of applied plant sciences is an ever-evolving field that involves our efforts to enhance and protect our plant resources.
Ethnobotany and Exploration for New Species
Since humans came into existence we have been using plants as medicines and food. Ethnobotanists study how people in different areas and different cultures have used plants throughout history. This area of study has become more popular as people around the world have become more interested in the medicinal qualities of plants. Another area of study is exploration for new species. As scientists delve into extreme environments such as hydrothermal vents, they are discovering new organisms -- including plants -- that have never been investigated before.
About the Author
Terri Schab is an biologist/wetland scientist who is passionate about ecosystem biogeochemical functions, environmental policy and any plant or fungi that exists. She was the lead scientist for a large wetland migration bank in the Pacific Northwest and is especially passionate about chemistry, ecosystem functions, green issues and science in general. She has also studied mathematics and has taught statistics in her career.