Description: Plant Sciences Keywords: Botany, Image

Why study Botany?

We depend on plants for oxygen, food, medicine, clothing, building materials, and a healthy environment. Today, the world faces problems of great magnitude, such as uncontrolled population growth, food shortages, global warming, loss of biodiversity, and a fuel crisis. Knowledge of plants can help to address all of these threats. Plant research in the field or laboratory provides possibilities to improve the nutritional value, yield, and disease resistance of crops, and to develop products like bio-fuels.

What do we offer?

The mission of Botany is to provide training and conduct research of international standard in ecology, taxonomy, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, biotechnology, molecular biology, and the study of past environments.

Plants and the environment

Ecologists investigate how ecosystems respond to natural and human inflicted disturbances and the implications of this for sustainable management. Terrestrial ecology deals with vegetation dynamics in land-based ecosystems, whereas limnology is concerned with aquatic ecosystems. This knowledge can be applied in environmental impact assessments, agricultural and conservation planning, and environmental rehabilitation.

Plant biodiversity

Taxonomy stands at the forefront of biodiversity research and conservation. It deals with the discovery, description, and identification of plants and includes studies in morphology, anatomy, and ultra-structure. The department houses an internationally-accredited herbarium. A number of powerful techniques such as scanning electron microscopy, DNA sequencing, and phylogenetic analysis are used to investigate the origin of biodiversity and relationships among plant groups.

Plant functioning

Various aspects of crop production are investigated. Research projects include the optimisation of specialised production techniques such as hydroponics and the use of growth promoting substances to improve nutrient uptake, nutritional value, and yield of various crops. Using cutting-edge technology, the defence mechanisms of agricultural crops against pathogens and insects are studied on molecular (DNA, RNA, and protein) and other biochemical levels. A proper understanding of the defence mechanisms is a prerequisite to manipulate crops for resistance.

Algal biotechnology involves the use of algae in the production of various commercially useful products such as food, feed, chemicals, health supplements, and bio-energy.

Career opportunities

A botany degree offers a great variety of entrepreneurial and career opportunities at private or government institutions such as the National Department of Agriculture, the CSIR, SANBI, agricultural research institutes, museums, universities, etc. It can lead to jobs in consulting, teaching, nature conservation, and applied or basic research on seeds, fertilisers, food production, biotechnology, nurseries, environmental impact assessments, biodiversity, etc.

Want to know more?

Department of Plant Sciences (Botany)
Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
University of the Free State
PO Box 339

Dr L Joubert

T: +27 51 4012655


Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

Home new

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful, to better understand how they are used and to tailor advertising. You can read more and make your cookie choices here. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.