A Doctor for Plants: Become a Plant Pathologist

People are always on the lookout for fresh and quality fruit and veg to use when preparing their favourite dishes. But have you ever really thought about where those fresh vegetables, big juicy tomatoes or good quality maize come from? Well, they come from healthy seed and healthy plants. The healthier the seeds and ultimately the plants, the better the quality of the meal on your table. This is where a plant pathologist comes in. They ensure your crops are healthy and disease free.

What is a plant pathologist?

Plant pathologists study the health of plants. They work both in laboratories and out in the field where they study conditions that can influence plant health. Not only that, but they work hard to combat the effects plant diseases can have on a plant. They are a doctor for plants! Afflicted with pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and funguses, plants contract diseases that plant pathologists work to combat these diseases by either managing them or curing them. They research plant diseases and how they affect plants and then try to control these diseases.

Plant pathologists work in laboratories where they scrutinize and analyze plants and plant diseases. Outside of the lab, plant pathologists study their subjects in natural environments. They commonly work with plant breeders and farmers on farms and gardens where plants grow. Additionally, plant pathologists engage with biological scientists, plant breeders and other agricultural scientists to create safer living arrangements to allow plants to reach their
maximum growth and yield potential.

Key aspects of being a plant pathologist

  • Lots of field work when inspecting crops
  • Interaction with growers/farmers to advise on raising healthy crops
  • Recording and monitoring of trials and commercial crops
  • Lab work to investigate diseases.

Who can become a plant pathologist?

To realise your dream of being a plant pathologist, you would need to work really hard in school, pass your Matric, and get into a good university. You need to get very good marks in subjects like Maths and Physical Science. When you complete your Matric, consider applying for a BSc (Hons) in Plant Pathology at any of South Africa’s universities.

The following personal attributes are also essential for anyone considering Plant Pathology as a career choice:

  • Enjoy working in the field and growing crops
  • Able to work with large amounts of data
  • Have a good of knowledge of seed physiology and basic plant pathology
  • Can work under pressure
  • Enjoy travelling

By becoming a plant pathologist, you will be joining a community that looks after the health of plants, ensuring that our families eat healthy and nutritious food. For more information, follow Sansor on Facebook and Instagram.