Plant Pathologist

Plant pathologists study the health of plants. They work to identify diseases, pests and other health problems a plant may experience. They mechanically inoculate (treat with a vaccine to produce immunity against a disease) to prevent viruses, bacterium, fungi, oomycetes (also known as “water molds”), nematodes (parasitic worms) and other pathogens in the field, greenhouse and growth chambers.

What Responsibilities Will I Have?

  • Inspect and sample plant tissues
  • Complete routine tasks associated with experiments
  • Assist in the detection of seed-transmitted pathogens including viruses, viroids (an infectious entity that is smaller than a virus), fungi and bacterium
  • Provide mechanical immunization of pathogens in growing areas
  • Perform bioassays of insects and vectors (Bioassays measure the concentration of a substance based on its effect on living cells or tissues.)
  • Maintain seed-testing services used for the detection of seed-transmitted pathogens
  • Perform routine data collection from research projects
  • Maintain proper documentation and reports of all tests and research
  • Prepare clear, accurate and concise reports of test results
  • Perform or direct a variety of molecular lab work
  • Perform complex data analysis using statistical models
  • Lead teams in creating analysis problems
  • Network internally to innovate and enable new tests
  • Network externally to determine new research opportunities
  • Propose and lead external collaborations
  • Design and implement new screening methods for diseases
  • Review literature and keep an updated knowledge of the latest technologies
  • Help in laboratory inventory management and maintenance of a clean and safe lab environment
  • Provide training and development to plant pathology and seed technology scientists and staff

Recommended High School Courses:

  • agricultural education
  • plant science
  • soil science
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • statistics
  • mathematics
  • environmental science

Education/Training Required:

Typically, plant pathologists obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree in plant science, soil science, botany, horticulture, plant pathology, biology or a related field. Having a doctorate degree is recommended for high-level research or administrative positions.

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