Plant Biology: Understanding Plant Life

Mar 11, 2016 By Carolina Grandellis
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Plant biology is the science that is dedicated to the study of plants.

Plant scientists dedicate themselves to understanding the many aspects of how plants make their living (survive and reproduce). Questions such as - How do plants get their food to grow? How do plants survive when it is cold? How do plants react when pathogens (germs) attack and cause disease? How can we help the plant produce more and better food for people?

The Role Of Plants

These questions are very important because plants are the main source of nutrition for animals, including us. Without them, animal life would not exist.

Plants can turn energy from sunlight and air (specifically carbon dioxide) into its own food (like sugar), through an amazing process called photosynthesis. All animals depend on the ability of plants to change sun's energy into food (and turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, which we breathe!).

The earth is changing rapidly. The climate is changing, our world's population is growing fast, and new diseases affecting plants and animals are on the rise. There is an increasing need to provide solutions to address these issues, to maintain and improve our quality of life.

Molecular Plant Biology

Some plant scientists try to achieve this goal by studying the functions of the plant cells and how they interact with the environment.

In particular, molecular plant biology uses molecular biology techniques which are performed in the lab, with the aim of understanding the behavior of plant genes. When we use the word molecular, that means that we study the function of a cell at the molecule levels. DNA, RNA, proteins among others, are very important components of the cells. We want to find particular genes that are turned on when the plant is stressed, attacked by pathogens or undergoing photosynthesis.

The ultimate goal is not only to deeply understand the plant’s life cycle but to also find a way we can make plants produce more and better food, resist pathogens, and tolerate droughts and other environment conditions.