Discover your career path

Plant Pathologist

Research and work to prevent plant diseases.

What does a Plant Pathologist do?

The interests of a Plant Pathologist lie in learning more about diseases that attack plants. Plant Pathologists use their research not only to help cure plants of these diseases, but also to learn more about how to cure diseases in people.

As a Plant Pathologist, you spend your day surrounded by plants. You grow plants in your laboratory, inject them with pathogens, and then watch and record the results. You also take samples of diseased plants and run sophisticated tests on them to determine the characteristics of the disease. To find out how that disease responds to certain forms of treatment, you perform experiments.

You won’t spend each day in the laboratory though. You also travel to locations where your patients-diseased plants-live. You take samples of the plants, and test the soil and air that surround them. If you work for a large agricultural company, you may spend much of your time in the field, attempting to cure plants while they’re in the ground.

If you discover a widespread plant disease, you may be forced to come out from behind your plants and talk to people. You may hold press releases, issue bulletins, write reports, and give interviews. You must attempt to demonstrate your people skills, even if you’re more comfortable with plants.

You also conduct research to create new varieties of plants that are resistant to diseases. This can be an important contribution to society, particularly if you’re dealing with a food crop. Your work can keep people fed.