UPSC: UPSC Mains has 9 subjective papers out of which 2 are of optional subjects that a candidate opts for from a list of 48 subjects. Botany is a part of this list and has 2 papers (Paper I and Paper II) in the Civil services examination. Each paper is of 250 marks with a total of 500 marks. The Botany syllabus for Mains Exam tests the candidates’ ability to understand the subject as science and apply botanical knowledge to ecological problems. The topics included in this subject are related to theoretical and applied Botany. Candidates who have studied Botany as a part of their curriculum or have a strong background in plant biology should take up this optional subject.
UPSC Optional Syllabus for Botany- Paper I
- 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.
- Algae, fungi, lichens, bryophytes, pteridophytes - structure and reproduction from an evolutionary viewpoint; Distribution of Cryptogams in India and their ecological and economic importance.
- Phanerogams: Gymnosperms:
- Concept of Progymnosperms; Classification and distribution of gymnosperms; Salient features of Cycada-les, 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, Astera-ceae, 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.
- 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.
- Totipotency, polarity, symmetry and differentiation; Cell, tissue, organ and protoplast culture; Somatic hybrids and Cybrids; Micropropagation; Somaclonal variation and its applications; Pollen haploids, embryo rescue methods and their applications.
UPSC Optional Syllabus for Botany- Paper II
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, ttest and chi-square test); Probability and distributions (normal, binomial and Poisson); Correlation and regression
- 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.
- 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.
Aspirants should always keep a copy of the Optional Syllabus with them as the syllabus is the guiding light for preparation. Mark keywords and restrict your preparation as per the syllabus mentioned. You can also check previous year papers for a better understanding of the kind of questions asked from Botany optional in previous years.