Plant biotechnology provides a method for mass production as well as for modifying and improving crops and other plants, which enhance the quality of life. It is, therefore, redefining agriculture and all plant-based industries. Plants are now being used to synthesise plastics and medicines (pharmaceuticals), as well as modification of traditional crop products. Plant biotechnology, thus, requires broad-based knowledge of botany, breeding, genetics, physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology, as well as proficiency in applied agricultural sciences such as crop science, crop protection, crop production, horticulture, entrepreneurship, and managerial skills.
The Department of Horticulture is fairly well equipped with expertise and facilities necessary to conduct teaching, research and entrepreneurship in plant biotechnology. The in-depth training in procedures such as micro-propagation, genetic transformation, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, gained while working alongside experienced staff will prove invaluable for candidates aspiring to pursue academic, research, production, or management-based careers in plant biotechnology.
The major aims of this programme are to provide opportunities for outstanding graduates to:
i) Prepare for rewarding careers in teaching, research and management in plant biotechnology;
ii) Learn the basic and applied sciences behind plant biotechnology;
iii) Gain holistic training in procedures such as micro-propagation, genetic transformation, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics of plants;
iv) Apply the acquired skills to exploit the potential of high-value horticultural and other plants;
v) Learn to conduct and manage plant biotechnology projects as a team or independently;
vi) Develop an appreciation of the current scope of plant biotechnology, as well as understand bio-safety and bioethical issues surrounding modern plant biotechnologies.
Applications for admission shall be considered for those holding a Bachelor of Science degree, in any of the plant-based disciplines, with a minimum of upper second-class honours, or its equivalent, from Egerton University or any other recognized institution. In addition, each applicant should request three persons, one of who shall have taught the applicant at a university level, to send letters of reference directly to Director of Board of Post-Graduate Studies.
There shall be two categories of registration for the M.Sc. degree in plant biotechnology:
i) Full-time students - students registered under this category shall be required to complete their degree requirements within three years;
ii) Part-time students - students registered under this category shall be required to complete their degree requirements within four years.
Course Structure and Duration
The courses are coded as follows:
i) The abbreviation HORT refers to Horticulture.
ii) The first digit indicates the level of training.
iii) The second digit represents the level of advancement of the content.
iv) The third digit refers to the series of courses in a particular field.
Regular graduate courses are numbered in 700 series and above. The usual maximum and minimum load for full-time students registered for M.Sc. in plant biotechnology shall be sixteen (16) and nine (9) credit factors credit factors per semester, respectively. The maximum and minimum load for part-time students shall be nine (9) and six (6) credit factors per semester, respectively. This study loads may vary where a candidate has completed coursework requirements. With the consent of lecturers concerned, a graduate student may audit by attending and participating in all sessions of non-compulsory courses. Taking tests and examinations is optional. Such students shall not earn credit factors for the audited courses, but shall be awarded the "AU" symbol. Subject to recommendation by the Department of Horticulture and approval by the Board of Post-graduate School, a student may transfer a maximum of six (6) credit factors of graduate
level course, provided that such credit factors were obtained with grade "B" or above, from recognized institutions.
All examination for this programme shall be conducted in accordance with the examination regulation as stipulated in the Egerton University statute XXIX.
The grading of examination for this programme shall be conducted in accordance with Egerton University statute XXIX.
To graduate, a student shall be required to take and pass ALL scheduled courses within the stipulated period.
The Master of Sciences `(Plant Biotechnology)degree programme is not classified.
Summary of Courses
A mandatory minimum of fourty five (45) credit factors (CF) of graduate work, are required for the Master of Science degree in plant biotechnology. Of these, at least 30 shall be obtained through coursework, while 15 shall be obtained through research and thesis work.
Options in M.Sc. in Plant Biotechnology
The three options available for concentration are as follows:
Option 1: M.Sc. Plant Biotechnology (Tissue Culture)
Focuses on development of protocols for in vitro plant tissue culture, micropropagation, germplasm conservation, virus elimination, screening and selection, and improved production efficiencies, and hence use less space to produce the same amount of yields.
Option 2: M.Sc. Plant Biotechnology (Genetic Modification)
Focuses on development and biosafety of transgenic plants for improved plant productivity and speeding up of breeding cycles. Products include: high yields and quality (nutritional, aesthetic, post-harvest handling and storage life), tolerance and/or resistance to herbicides, abiotic stresses (drought, cold), biotic stresses (viruses, insect pests, fungi, and bacteria).
Option 3: M.Sc. Plant Biotechnology (Secondary Metabolites)
Focuses on production (biosynthesis and engineering) in plants of secondary metabolites, such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food-flavours, biofuels and oils to substitute non-renewable ones.