Botany (UPSC Optionals)
1. Microbiology and Plant Pathology: Structure and reproduction/multiplication of viruses, viroids, bacteria, fungi and mycoplasma; Applications of microbiology in agriculture, industry, medicine and in control of soil and water pollution; Prion and Prion hypothesis. Important crop diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, mycoplasma, fungi and nematodes; Modes of infection and dissemination; Molecular basis of infection and disease resistance/defence; Physiology of parasitism and control measures; Fungal toxins; Modelling and disease forecasting; Plant quarantine.
2. Cryptogams:Algae, fungi, lichens, bryophytes, pteridophytes – structure and reproduction from evolutionary viewpoint; Distribution of Cryptogams in India and their ecological and economic importance.
- Gymnosperms: Concept of Progymnosperms; Classification and distribution of gymnosperms; Salient features of Cycadales, Ginkgoales, Coniferales and Gnetales, their structure and reproduction; General account of Cycadofilicales, Bennettitales and Cordaitales; Geological time scale; Type of fossils and their study techniques.
- Angiosperms: Systematics, anatomy, embryology, palynology and phylogeny.
- Taxonomic hierarchy; International Code of Botanical Nomenclature; Numerical taxonomy and chemotaxonomy; Evidence from anatomy, embryology and palynology.
- Origin and evolution of angiosperms; Comparative account of various systems of classification of angiosperms; Study of angiospermic families – Mangnoliaceae, Ranunculaceae, Brassicaceae, Rosaceae, Fabaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Malvaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Apiaceae, Asclepiadaceae, Verbenaceae, Solanaceae, Rubiaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Asteraceae, Poaceae, Arecaceae, Liliaceae, Musaceae and Orchidaceae.
- Stomata and their types; Glandular and non-glandular trichomes; Unusual secondary growth; Anatomy of C3 and C4 plants; Xylem and phloem differentiation; Wood anatomy.
- Development of male and female gametophytes, pollination, fertilization; Endosperm – its development and function; Patterns of embryo development; Polyembroyony and apomixes; Applications of palynology; Experimental embryology including pollen storage and test-tube fertilization.
4. Plant Resource Development: Domestication and introduction of plants; Origin of cultivated plants; Vavilov’s centres of origin; Plants as sources for food, fodder, fibre, spices, beverages, edible oils, drugs, narcotics, insecticides, timber, gums, resins and dyes, latex, cellulose, starch and its products; Perfumery; Importance of Ethnobotany in Indian context; Energy plantations; Botanical Gardens and Herbaria.
5. Morphogenesis:Totipotency, polarity, symmetry and dfferentiation; Cell, tissue, organ and protoplast culture; Somatic hybrids and Cybrids; Micropropagation; Somaclonal variation and its applications; Pollen haploids, embryo rescue methods and their applications.
1. Cell Biology:
- Techniques of cell biology; Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells – structural and ultrastructural details; Structure and function of extracellular matrix (cell wall), membranes-cell adhesion, membrane transport and vesicular transport; Structure and function of cell organelles (chloroplasts, mitochondria, ER, dictyosomes ribosomes, endosomes, lysosomes, peroxisomes); Cytoskelaton and microtubules; Nucleus, nucleolus, nuclear pore complex; Chromatin and nucleosome; Cell signalling and cell receptors; Signal transduction; Mitosis and meiosis; Molecular basis of cell cycle; Numerical and structural variations in chromosomes and their significance; Chromatin organization and packaging of genome; Polytene chromosomes; B-chromosomes – structure, behaviour and significance.
2. Genetics, Molecular Biology and Evolution:
- Development of genetics; Gene versus allele concepts (Pseudoalleles); Quantitative genetics and multiple factors; Incomplete dominance, polygenic inheritance, multiple alleles; Linkage and crossing over; Methods of gene mapping, including molecular maps (idea of mapping function); Sex chromosomes and sex-linked inheritance, sex determination and molecular basis of sex differentiation; Mutations (biochemical and molecular basis); Cytoplasmic inheritance and cytoplasmic genes (including genetics of male sterility).
- Structure and synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins;Genetic code and regulation of gene expression; Gene silencing; Multigene families; Organic evolution – evidences, mechanism and theories. Role of RNA in origin and evolution.
3. Plant Breeding, Biotechnology and Biostatistics:
- Methods of plant breeding – introduction, selection and hybridization (pedigree, backcross, mass selection, bulk method); Mutation, polyploidy, male sterility and heterosis breeding; Use of apomixes in plant breeding; DNA sequencing; Genetic engineering – methods of transfer of genes; Transgenic crops and biosafety aspects; Development and use of molecular markers in plant breeding; Tools and techniques – probe, southern blotting, DNA fingerprinting, PCR and FISH.
- Standard deviation and coefficient of variation (CV); Tests of significance (Z-test, t-test and chi-square test); Probability and distributions (normal, binomial and Poisson); Correlation and regression.
4. Physiology and Biochemistry:
- Water relations, mineral nutrition and ion transport, mineral deficiencies; Photosynthesis – photochemical reactions; photophosphorylation and carbon fixation pathways; C3, C4 and CAM pathways; Mechanism of phloem transport; Respiration (anerobic and aerobic, including fermentation) – electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation; Photorespiration; Chemiosmotic theory and ATP synthesis; Lipid metabolism; Nitrogen fixation and nitrogen metabolism; Enzymes, coenzymes; Energy transfer and energy conservation; Importance of secondary metabolites; Pigments as photoreceptors (plastidial pigments and phytochrome); Plant movements; Photoperiodism and flowering, vernalization, senescence; Growth substances – their chemical nature, role and applications in agri-horticulture; Growth indices, growth movements; Stress physiology (heat, water, salinity, metal); Fruit and seed physiology; Dormancy, storage and germination of seed; Fruit ripening – its molecular basis and manipulation.
5. Ecology and Plant Geography:
- Concept of ecosystem; Ecological factors; Concepts and dynamics of community; Plant succession; Concept of biosphere; Ecosystems; Conservation; Pollution and its control (including phytoremediation); Plant indicators; Environment (Protection) Act.
- Forest types of India – Ecological and economic importance of forests, afforestation, deforestation and social forestry; Endangered plants, endemism, IUCN categories, Red Data Books; Biodiversity and its conservation; Protected Area Network; Convention on Biological Diversity; Farmers’ Rights and Intellectual Property Rights; Concept of Sustainable Development; Biogeochemical cycles; Global warming and climatic change; Invasive species; Environmental Impact Assessment; Phytogeographical regions of India.
Section I is important for the 200-word short notes and you should practice accordingly. Applied aspects of queries are more important. In Plant Pathology you can safely leave description of diseases but should focus on physiological aspects.
The syllabus tells you to study plant group for their structure and reproduction with evolutionary viewpoint. The question in the examination however, does not mention the word evolution explicitly but examiners expect evolutionary treatment of questions.
Phanerogams is divided into various sub-groups. The key areas are:
Gymnosperms: Emphasis on fossil types
Angiosperms: Skip the families which were asked last year. Practice floral diagrams and formulas as much as possible
Anatomy: Not a consistent portion. It can be ignored if other portions are well prepared
Embryology: Stick to prescribed topics. Draw neat diagrams. The preparation of this portion can be clubbed with Morphogenesis.
The strategy for this paper should revolve around providing updated information, colored illustrations and focus on applications.
Focus should be on molecular aspect. Any long process should be discussed only with diagrams showing all the steps. Genetics, Molecular Biology and Evolution is a high scoring area in Paper II. The focus thus should be on making notes and writing crisp answers. Students should always highlight applications in agriculture and human welfare.
During the past three years, questions from Plant Breeding, Biotechnology and Biostatistics have been asked in compulsory section of the paper. The preparation strategy should revolve around making short notes and give stepwise crosses. They should also focus on “Role of Breeding in Crop Improvement in India”.
Physiology and Biochemistry
Biochemical physiology is most important. In this year’s examination, photosynthesis and nitrogen metabolism are more important than respiration. Students need to cover hormones and developmental physiology in areas like flowering, seed germination and fruit ripening.
In Ecology and Plant Geography; students can do with preparing just short notes. They can however afford to skip this section if they have covered other parts well.
Suggested Botany Books for IAS
Books on Botany as Optional subject for IAS Exam are as Follows:
- Cell Biology: De Robertis & Ambrose and Easy or Powar
- Genetics: Strickberger or Vir Bala Rastogi
- Physiology and Biochemistry: Salisbury and Ross or Fritz and Noggle
- Ecology: Vir Bala Rastogi and M.S. Jayaraj and P.D. Singh
- Economic Botany: Kochar or Verma
- Microbiology: Powars’s two books on microbiology are more than enough.
- Pathology: Singh’s book along with a foreign author
- Cryptograms: B.R. Vasista (alage and fungi), P.C. Vashishta (Pteridophytes gymnosperms) Pandey and Trivedi (both volumes)
- Embryology: Bhojwani and Bhatnagar
- Plant Anatomy: Esau or B.P. Pandey
- Taxonomy: Nair along with Datta