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Plant Geneticist

Improve plants by experimenting with their genes.

What does a Plant Geneticist do?

Remember in middle school when you planted pea plant seeds, and doggedly recorded each new leaf and vegetable it produced? Then the Teacher made you understand how different plants passed on different traits to the next generation? A Plant Geneticist’s job is to keep the process going, creating generation after generation of plants, and then keeping track of variations.

Okay, so Plant Geneticists do more than sit in a lab, waiting for pea plants to reach maturity. Your goal as a Plant Geneticist is to solve the food problems of the world. That’s more like it, right? To do that, you break down the genetics of a specific type of plant.

Let’s use corn as an example. You research and run tests on current strains of corn. Then you isolate the genes that contribute to each trait. With that information, you re-mix the genes and create seeds that perform a specific task. Common goals are pest and weed resistance, higher yields, or higher nutritional value.

This can be a very fulfilling field of science. Imagine designing wheat that could grow in the deserts of Africa, or a green pepper that could grow in the cold climates of Alaska. This field of science works to produce more food for the world’s hungry, pack more nutrients into the foods produced, and make them all taste better too.

This often requires many generation of experiments. So you play around with different soils, fertilizers, chemicals, lighting, and water conditions until you find the right combination.