Prof (Mrs) F.I Okungbowa
HOD, Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology
A. NAME OF DEPRATMENT: Plant Biology and Biotechnology
B. NAME OF PROGRAMME: (B.Sc Plant Biology and Biotechnology)
C. PHILOSOPHY OF THE PROGRAMME:
Plant Biology and Biotechnology is the scientific study of plants and their use in solving man’s problems. It encompasses, in the broadest sense, microsocopic bacteria and algae through to large forest trees. Man has always depended on plants for food, fibre and drugs. With the growing emphasis on renewable resources, supplies of fossil fuels and other exhaustible materials, the need for better understanding of plants, including present day under-utilized, over-exploited or economic and non-economic species has come sharply into focus.
A wide array of interest areas exists in Plant Biology and Biotechnology, allowing persons with different background, aptitude and temperament to select satisfactorily plant science based careers, e.g. Genetic or Biophysics for the mathematically oriented; Taxonomy and Ecology for those who enjoy outdoor activities; Morphology, Anatomy and Cytology for those with a flair for microscopy; Plant Biochemistry and Chemical Taxonomy for the chemically disposed; Algology and Mycology for persons with interest in microorganisms; Phytomedicine for those who are interested in the medicinal values of plants and Environmental Sciences for those interested in ecosystems changes and management. Furthermore, Plant Biology and Biotechnology students may specialize, at the post – graduate level, in any one of these areas but first require a fundamental knowledge of plants.
From the above, it should be clear that Plant Biologists and Biotechnologists may teach or conduct research, basic or applied, but equally important are the many avenues, which are open in industry where they may serve as administrators.
In Nigeria, places of job placement include, the commodity research institutes, including the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), the Research Institute of Nigeria (RRIN) both near Benin City, the Tropical Stored Products Research Institute in Lagos, the Tuber and Roots Crops Research Institute at Umudike, the National Cereals Research Institute at Pategi near Bida, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA): the National Horticultural Research institute, the Forestry Research Institute and National Seed Services Organisation, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria in Ibadan, the various states and Federal Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the River Basin Authorities and the Marine and Oceanography Institute in Lagos offer employment opportunities for one in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, Mycology and Plant Pathology, Algology and Limnology, Genetics and Plant Breeding, Taxonomy, Mushroom Science, Morphology and fine structure and in other areas as appropriate.
In addition, Plant Biology and Biotechnology graduates may seek gainful employment in such government agencies and allied bodies as the Federal Quarantine Service. Geological Survey, the Environmental and Oil Exploration Department of NNPC as well as in Germplasm Collection and Herbarium, Museums and Archaeology Institute and in Botanical Gardens, Parks and Reserves. Industry is another employer especially in more advanced countries. The pharmaceutical industry, petrochemical industry, timber industry, seed companies, food companies, fermentation industry (including breweries) and biology supplies houses are pertinent examples.
Finally graduates of the department may be self employed as in the floriculture business, in mushroom production and in consultancy service to agriculture forestry, fisheries, oil industry, paper mills and other users of wood and plant products.
The Undergraduate Programme
The Department aims at producing first-degree holders with a fundamental knowledge of plants and a little more. Accordingly, the first year of the four-year degree programme is devoted to the basic sciences, mainly Plant Biology, Zoology and Chemistry or Physics. This is followed by two years of course work designed to give students good exposure to the major disciplines within the subject. In the final year, students are required to take a number of “track” or honours options areas and are to undertake Honours Research Project work of six credits in any of these areas.
These are determined by the available staff at a particular time and presently include:
- Cell and Molecular Biology
- Limnology and Algology
- Mycology and Plant Pathology
- Mushroom Science
- Plant Biosystematics
- Plant Ecology
- Plant Physiology and Biochemistry
- Environmental Plant Physiology
- Seed Science
Honours research projects are undertaken in the final year of the degree programme. Although preliminary work may be carried out in the summer vacation of the penultimate year. A dissertation based on the work done must be submitted before second semester examination commences in the final year.
D. OBJECTIVES OF THE PROGRAMME
The programme has been designed to provide a sound understanding of the concepts and methodologies of Plant Biology and Biotechnology in key areas that meet the needs of society. The main objectives of the programme are to broadly educate students for positions in the conservation and bio-diversity sectors, and to prepare them for graduate and professional studies in the plant sciences at the molecular level. With respect to the biotechnological aspect of the programme, the main objectives are to broadly educate students for positions in the modern Plant Biotechnology and to prepare them for graduate and professional studies in the life sciences at the molecular level.
Although there are existing programmes in Nigerian Universities that prepare graduates in the basics of traditional biotechnology, the nation has a dearth of the critical mass of human resources as well as infrastructural capacity for modern biotechnology research and teaching which is the current mainstay of global trend in biotechnology. The Plant biology and Biotechnology programme has been designed to provide a sound understanding of the concepts and methodologies of modern molecular plant biotechnology in key areas that meet the needs of society.
E. ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS
Candidate intending to study Plant Biology and Biotechnology must possess credit passes in five subjects in the SSCE, GCE/OL, NECO and WASC or approved equivalent qualification including English Language, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics; A pass in Physics is required.
In addition to general University (that is matriculation) and Faculty requirements, candidates who come in at second year of the degrees programme (i.e. Direct Entry) must possess a minimum of two appropriate GCE/AL papers or equivalent chosen from Botany, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography and Zoology except that biology may not be counted with Botany or Zoology.
F. GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS
The minimum number of credits for the ward of a degree shall be 130 credits and 100 credits for 4-years and 3-years degree programme respectively as follows:
40 credits from the 100 series of courses (including 10 credits of GS)
30 credits from the 200 series of courses
30 credits from the 300 series of courses
30 credits from the 400 series of courses
Minimum number of years required to graduate is 4 years for UME Candidates (3 years for Direct Entry students). Whereas, Maximum Number of years required to qualify for a degree 6 years for UME Candidates; 5 years for Direct Entry.
Total number of credits required to graduate:
4 – Years Course – 130 Credits (including 10 G.S. credits);
Direct Entry – 100 Credits (including 10 G.S. credits)