Department of Plant Science

Botany, also known as Plant Science(s) or Plant Biology or Phytology, is a branch of biology and refers to the scientific study of all aspects of plants. There is life all around us and man is naturally a botanist. The study of plants around can be one of the most ancient scientific pursuits of human beings, and such study was originally inspired by our basic needs and practical interests. This practical-based science has yielded greater insights into our understanding of all life throughout history. Thus botany began with the human exploration for fulfilling his essential needs, to identify edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, useful plants, etc. making plant science one of the oldest sciences. From this ancient interest in plants, the scope of botany has increased many folds to include the study of around 2, 60, 000 species of vascular plants comprising 2, 48, 000 flowering plants. Botany thus, embraces every scientific inquiry that can be made on plants – their nature, their kinds, the laws which govern them, the unique or bioactive molecules they contain, their uses and the part they play in the general economy of the world.

Plant science thus forming a vital branch of science deals with the study of Algae, Fungi, Lichens, Bryophytes, Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, and Angiosperms, their classification, structure, growth, reproduction, metabolism, development, diseases, chemical properties, uses and ecological & evolutionary relationships among the different groups. The continued investigations of plants are fundamental in this post-industrial, knowledge-based modern era because they provide countless precious goods and services that underpin almost all life on the planet Earth. A greater understanding and knowledge of plants and their unique processes is inevitable to the future of human societies as it will enable us to overcome the challenges posed and reap benefits from the opportunities offered in this century.

Mankind has a very long history of using plant species as herbal medicines and natural products are ubiquitous in our everyday life. There is a renewed interest in medicinal plants as we encounter many emerging and reemerging diseases due to degraded environment and global climate change impacts. Ancient Indians had rich and deep knowledge of medicinal values of different plants. A recent survey revealed that 61% of the drugs used worldwide can be traced to or were inspired by natural products. Our dependence on plants for natural products most likely will continue for several reasons. Though, more than 50,000 different chemical compounds have been characterised so far within the plant kingdom, the majority of the plant species have not yet been closely analysed for their phytochemicals and medicines. Megabiodiversity countries like India particularly Southern India, with its rich resources of medicinal plants diversity backed by the ancient diverse and sound traditional knowledge base, is ideally placed for plant drug research, combining the modern science and technological inputs. Throughout the world, there’s an increasing awareness and great demand now for the natural and eco-friendly products, from textiles dyes to food additives to life-saving medicines, besides renewed interests in organic farming, medicinal plants and phytoremediation, etc. due to the realization of ill-effects and over-use of synthetic pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, drugs and pollutants. Modern botany commenced as the inheritance patterns and molecular mechanisms were unraveled by scientists. The advancements in technology and developments in recent modern techniques and instruments have lead to the newer insights into the structure and functions of plants and their biochemical and/or molecular machinery. It should be noted that the importance of botany has also been realized worldwide as evident from the increased funding for research on plants. It is reported that the maximum funds for research globally are spent directly or indirectly to study various aspects of plants leading to advancements in various disciplines of sciences/ technology. Moreover, the scope of botany has widened in recent times with the applications of the knowledge of plants to many other related areas of science. The opportunities for a postgraduate in botany have expanded and there are greater prospects in academics, research, industry, consultancy and entrepreneurship, both in government and private sectors – in India and abroad. Job opportunities are also increasing as research organizations, herbal products companies, farm management organizations, biotech and drug development firms always do require the services of botany students.

Appreciating the growing importance and increasing scope for botany worldwide, the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University has recently (Since June 2014) commenced the Department of Plant Science to impart higher education at postgraduate level and to conduct thrust-based research at doctoral and post-doctoral levels to expand the horizons in botany and to cater the needs of best trained young professionals in the field of plant biology and biotechnology. The University, located closer to the Southern Western Ghats as well as to the East and West Coasts, provides great opportunities to explore the unique biodiversity, bioprospecting and conservation of the rare and endemic plants – through direct field and lab-based learning with equal importance for practical oriented class-room education. With the ambient learning atmosphere and necessary (modern) facilities with classical herbarium, modern analytical lab and computer systems, the focused botany students and scholars with keen interests and passions in plants may find it an ideal and inspiring centre to learn, grow, branch out and flourish. The Department is propelled by a dynamic vibrant team of well-trained experienced faculty with expertise and competence in various specializations. The department also has well equipped modern modular labs with all necessary facilities for conducting state-of-the-art research works in plant science, and plant biotechnology, besides the facility for frequent field visits, a library/ information centre and Wi-Fi connected systems & software. The constantly updated curriculum, continuous performance appraisal and feedbacks, and regular career counseling are ideally designed to help the aspiring students to get through the SLET/ NET exams. In addition, numerous seminars/workshops/conference/symposia/ training programmes etc. conducted regularly in the campus will certainly help the fascinated students to get rich exposure and valuable experience to keep abreast of the recent developments and update their knowledge. To make the students more competent and confident, the multidisciplinary approach as well as the scope for training in personality development and communication skills are given importance. Emphasis has been on active self-learning with more seminars, assignments but special lectures by professionals / specialists / experts are also arranged regularly for more exposure. Extra care and support provided to help the meritorious students to apply and get all relevant scholarships / fellowships / assistantships during and after the pursuit of their education / research.