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The scientific study of plant life is called botany. It is a branch of biology. In Greek botany means "pasture, grass, fodder". The idea may perhaps come from the need of the livestock keeper to find safe plants for livestock. Botany is one of the ancient sciences. From the very early days, man tried to spot medicinal, edible, and poisonous plants. More than 550,000 species of living organisms exist at present. Various scientific disciplines related to the study of plants, algae and fungi, together with growth, reproduction, development, structure, metabolism, diseases, chemical properties and evolutionary relationships among taxonomic groups are extensively covered by this branch of biology. Plant populations and communities of plants, genetic and biochemical level through organelles, molecular cells, tissues, organs, and individuals are used for studying plant life. A botanist can be more acknowledged with plant life by going deeper into the subjects like taxonomy (classification), anatomy and morphology (structure), and physiology (function of plant life). In early days all organisms came under botany for instance fungi, lichens, bacteria, viruses and non-chlorophyte algae. The present day botany has separated them from plant kingdom. But in introductory botany courses we can still find fungi, lichens, and photosynthetic protests.

Plants are the elementary part of life on earth. Their existence is very important as they provide food, fibers, oxygen, fuel and medicine to human as well as other existing life forms. The process of photosynthesis helps to prevent global warming to a certain extent. They play an important role in preventing soil erosion and influencing water cycle. From the history of the earth it can be understood that global atmosphere of the earth was changed due to the existence of photosynthetic plants. Earliest plants present in the fossil record are studied by Paleobotanists. Man directly or indirectly depends on plants for their food. Here, indirectly means through animals as they get nutrition from plants. The basic foundation of all food chains is plants. As ecologists say they belong to the first tropic level. Production of food by plants is studied by botanists and through plant breeding they supply food security for upcoming generation. Weeds are a great nuisance in agriculture and botanists supply methods to reduce the impact of weed in agriculture and native ecosystems.

The study of the relationships between plants and people is called Ethnobotany. Archaeobotany or paleoethnobotany is the investigation of such a relationship in the past. Fundamental life processes like cell division and protein synthesis can easily be studied in plants when compared to animals or humans. Gregor Mendel discovered the genetic laws of inheritance while he was studying the way the pea shape and other characteristics were inherited. Thus the discovery got while studying plants was more beneficial outside botany. Barbara McClintock is also an example who discovered 'jumping genes' by studying maize. Thus the significance of botanical research in understanding of fundamental biological processes cannot be neglected.



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