We aim to understand disease processes from molecules and cells to pest and pathogen populations; our research provides underpinning knowledge for crop improvement through development of durable host resistance an sustainable disease control strategies. Mycology and Bacteriology involve the study of plant pathogenic fungi and bacteria respectively. Bacteriology as a subdiscipline of Plant Pathology has brought about the Agrobacterium tumefaciens and Escherichia coli, and many more bacterial plasmids which are useful in Agricultural Biotechnology for the delivery of desirable genetic materials into plant cells.
This is the scientific discipline concerned with the study of nematodes, or roundworms. Although nematological investigation dates back to the days of Aristotle or even earlier, nematology as an independent discipline has its recognizable beginnings in the mid to late 19th century. The “roundworms” or “nematodes” (Phylum Nematoda) are the most diverse phylum of pseudocoelomates, and one of the most diverse of all animals. Nematode species are very difficult to distinguish; over 80,000 have been described, of which over 15,000 are parasitic.
It involves the study of viruses and virus-like agents: their structure, classification and evolution, their ways to infect and exploit cells for virus reproduction, the diseases they cause, the techniques to isolate and culture them, and their use in research and therapy. Virology is often considered a part of microbiology or of pathology.
This is an holistic approach with practical solutions. In the management of farming and growing enterprises, it is becoming increasingly necessary to consider the whole farming system, rather than just its component parts, because decisions that mitigate one problem may cause adverse effects in other parts of the system. Equally, management decisions may have an impact upon the environment or biodiversity.
Plant Breeding and Genetics
This is the art and science of changing the genetics of plants for the benefit of humankind. Plant breeding can be accomplished through many different techniques ranging from simply selecting plants with desirable characteristics for propagation, to more complex molecular techniques. Using state-of-the-art approaches in breeding and genetics, we aim to deliver the next generation of crops that give farmers and consumers the best options for good food.
This is the industry and science of plant cultivation. Horticulturists work and conduct research in the disciplines of plant propagation and cultivation, crop production, plant breeding and genetic engineering, plant biochemistry, and plant physiology. Horticulturists work to improve crop yield, quality, nutritional value, and resistance to insects, diseases, and environmental stresses.
This is the science and technology of using plants for food, fuel, feed, and fibre. Agronomy encompasses work in the areas of plant genetics, plant physiology, meteorology, and soil science. Agronomy is the application of a combination of sciences like biology, chemistry, ecology, earth science and genetics. Agronomists today are involved with many issues including producing food, creating healthier food, managing environmental impact of agriculture and creating energy from plants.
Seed Science & Technology
The quality of seed and how they perform in practice directly affect crop production efficiently through their impact on seedling establishing. High seed quality and good seedling establishment are of equal importance in protected cropping, amenity horticulture, forestry and forest restoration.
Physiological seed dormancy is present throughout the higher plants and has a profound impact on many aspects of crop production and the structure of plant communities in the natural environment. Despites this, our understanding of dormancy is limited. Little is known about how dormancy is controlled at the molecular level or how dormancy mechanisms interact with the soil environment to determine patterns of seedling emergence.
When seeds are planted and the seedlings emerge, unwanted plants called weeds, also emerge and compete severely with the young crop plants, depriving them of having adequate moisture, space and nutrients for proper growth. In most cases, weeds out-compete the crop plants and are therefore potentially dangerous to them. If the plant-weed competition continues beyond a critical stage, crop yield becomes adversely affected, even if the weeds are subsequently removed. Weed control is therefore, an important aspect of crop production and protection.
This involves the study of insect interactions with crops and their environments. It includes reference insect collection and systematic studies, insect pathology, insect ecology and integrated pest management, investigations of naturally occurring insecticides from plants, and host pant resistant studies. All these aspects of entomology and more have been studied in the Department.