Perspectives Online

From Botany to Plant Biology: New name reflects broader discipline

The 75-year-old Department of Botany in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has changed its name: As of July 1, 2006, the Department of Plant Biology is the name of the department headed by Dr. Margaret E. Daub.

"The name change reflects the contemporary trend in defining the broader discipline of plant biology, as well as the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of the Botany Department's programs," Daub said. "Although the term botany has a long and distinguished history, it has become associated with more traditional areas of study in the biology of plants.

"Moving from the traditional focus on taxonomy, morphology, biogeography and physiology, the study of plants now also encompasses genomics, genetics, evolution and molecular and cellular biology - and has emerged as a major biological discipline."

Reflective of these changes, she said, "there is a trend nationally and internationally to redefine botany in a broader context, and refer to the discipline as plant biology."

The CALS department reflects the breadth of the discipline, Daub said. It has a history of rapidly incorporating modern techniques, including tissue culture, electron microscopy, biotechnology and cellular imaging into research in the various fields. The department offers bachelor of science, master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees, with classroom and research opportunities in many areas of contemporary plant biology.

The department's facilities include the Southeastern Plant Environment Laboratory, also known as the NCSU phytotron, a leading center for controlled environment research; the Cellular and Molecular Imaging Facility; and the Plant Identification Center/Herbarium.

The name change brings N.C. State University in line with other leading institutions nationwide which have chosen the name "Plant Biology" for their departments and programs, said Daub. "This change significantly increases the visibility of our department, our College and our university to prospective students and to the broader academic community with an interest in plants."

- Terri Leith