Concepts of Biotechnology
In 1919, Karl Erkeny, a German scientist, developed the word “biotechnology” which means products are made from basic materials using the help of living organisms.
Biotechnology is NOT new. Man has been manipulating living things to solve problems and improve his way of life for millennia. Agricultural efforts before the late eighteenth century were mostly about food production. For example, crops and animals were selectively bred and microorganisms were used to make food items such as beverages, cheese, and bread. Additionally, in the late eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, important advancements were made in the fields of vaccination, crop rotation, and animal-drawn machinery.
Biotechnology got going at the beginning of the twentieth century and developed at the time of World War I when chemical processes were developed that could extract acetone from starch and paint solvents. More work was done in the 1930s on using surplus agricultural products to supply industry rather than imports or petrochemicals (Goodman, 1987).
Currently biotechnology is being used in various fields including agriculture, bioremediation, food processing, and energy production. DNA fingerprinting is commonly done in forensics. Production of insulin and other medicines is accomplished using vectors that carry the desired gene. Immunoassays are frequently used by farmers for drug level and pregnancy testing, as well as in environmental soil, sediment, and groundwater testing.
Biotechnology- Bio means life and technology means the application of knowledge for practical use ie., the use of living organisms to make or improve a product.
Other definitions for the term Biotechnology
The use of living organisms for problem solving or the production of useful goods.
Cells and biological molecules are employed to address problems or create beneficial products. Molecules derived from biological matter include DNA, RNA, and proteins.
The deliberate alteration of DNA molecules in order to use them in commercial applications.
Build a predictable and controllable living cell to do a certain activity.
One could describe biotechnology as having “a Janus-faced nature.” In this instance, this means that there are two opposing forces at work. To modify DNA, many approaches are used on one side of the equation. On the other hand, these technologies are relatively new and there is no consensus on their long-term repercussions.
Stages of biotechnology development
- Ancient biotechnology – 8000-4000 B.C
Early history as related to food and shelter; includes domestication
- Classical biotechnology – 2000 B.C.; 1800-1900 AD
Built on ancient biotechnology; fermentation promoted food production and medicine
- 1900-1953: Genetics
- 1953 – 1976: DNA research, science explodes
- Modern biotechnology – 1977
Manipulates genetic information in organism; Genetic engineering Biotechnology is a collection of various technologies that enable us to improve crop yield and food quality in agriculture and to produce a broader array of products in industries.
Various technologies and their uses
- Genetic Engineering (Recombinant DNA) Technology The use of cellular enzymes to manipulate DNA Transferring DNA between unrelated organisms
- Protein Engineering Technology
Improve existing/create novel proteins to make useful products
- Antisense or RNAi Technology
Block or decrease the production of certain proteins
- Cell and Tissue Culture Technology
Grow cells/tissues under laboratory conditions to produce an entire organism, or to produce new products
- Bioinformatics Technology
Computational analysis of biological data, e.g., sequence analysis macromolecular structures, high-throughput profiling data analysis
- Functional Genomics (the -omics)
The use of genome-wide, high-throughput approaches to determine the biological function of all of the genes and their products
High-throughput technologies (the -omics)
- Transcriptomics (e.g. microarray expression profiling)
- Proteomics (e.g. structures/modifications/interactions of proteins)
- A cell’s limitless array of functions are due to its proteins. The proteome of a cell is defined as the totality of proteins found in that cell, and research into protein structure and function is known as proteomics. Proteome dynamicity varies depending on various environmental influences. Proteomics seeks to explain how proteins serve their structural and functional purposes, how they interact with other molecules, and how they contribute to various biological processes.
- Metabolomics (e.g. metabolite profiling, chemical fingerprinting, flux analysis) One of the newest ‘omics’ disciplines is metabolomics. The metabolome is a term that refers to all the low molecular weight molecules that make up a sample. Enzymatic reactions (the substrates and by-products) produce changes in the phenotypic of the cell, which means they influence it in a direct way. The metabolism and quantification of metabolites in a particular sample or tissue, under precise environmental conditions, is a primary goal of metabolomics.
- Transgenomics (e.g. knock-out, knock-in, gene tagging, mutagenesis)
- Translational genomics
Applications of biotechnology & genomics
- Environmental biotechnology
- Environmental monitoring
- Diagnosis of environmental problems via biotechnology
- Environmental monitoring
B. Waste management
- Bioremediation: the use of microbes to break down organic molecules or environmental pollutants.
- Phyto remediation: the use of plants to remove pollutants (e.g. heavy metals) from the environment.
C. Pollution prevention
- Renewable resources
- Biodegradable products
- Alternative energy sources
2. Medical biotechnology
- Medical research tools
- Human Genome Research
3. Agricultural biotechnology
- Animal Biotechnology
- Crop Biotechnology
- Horticultural Biotechnology
- Tree Biotechnology
- Food processing
4. Evolutionary and ecological genomics
Finding genes associated with ecological traits and evolutionary diversification. Common goals: health, productivity
Plant biotechnology /Agricultural biotechnology
A. To create a genetically modified plant, an organism is harvested, its genetic information is then removed, and the data is manipulated in the laboratory. This information is then transferred to a plant, which is transformed with this altered information. If you’re looking for a nutshell representation of plant manipulation, you’ve found it.
B. Primarily, the plants are used to accomplish two key goals.
C. Crop improvement
- Herbicide tolerance (in use)
- Pest resistance (in use)
- Drought tolerance
- Nitrogen fixing ability
- Acidity and Salinity tolerance
D. Nutritional value of crops
increasing the quality and safety of food
lowering the amount of saturated fatty acids in vegetable oils improves the healthfulness of the cooking oils
Functional foods: foods rich in physiologically active components, such as antioxidants, which provide health advantages.
Various technologies applied in plant biotechnology includes
- Genetic engineering/ recombinant DNA technology
- Tissue culture
- Molecular breeding – MAS
Traditional plant breeding involves cross-breeding of similar plants to produce new varieties with different traits. But it takes many generations to achieve desired result. By using various biotechnological tools, crop improvement can be achieved faster and it even facilitates to transfer genes from unrelated species
Manipulation of genes is called genetic engineering or recombinant DNA technology. It removes gene(s) from one organism and either
- Transfers them to another
- Puts them back in the original with a different combination Various gene transfer techniques used in genetic engineering includes
Agrobacterium-mediated gene transfer: This technique can be used to transfer a desired trait from the DNA of the parent organism into an Agrobacterium, which is then introduced into the plant tissue. New plants having the characteristic are created when these cells are given the DNA.
a gene gun: A high-pressure source injects tungsten particles coated with DNA which codes for the desired phenotype into a clump of plant cells. If the cells that accept the DNA are cultured into the desired plants, they are said to have had the desired trait injected into them.
Tissue culture manipulates cells, anthers, pollen grains, or other tissues; so they live for extended periods under laboratory conditions or become whole, living, growing organisms; genetically engineered cells may be converted into genetically engineered organisms through tissue culture.
Marker Assisted Selection
Marker-aided genetic analysis studies DNA sequences to identify genes, QTLs (quantitative trait loci), and other molecular markers and to associate them with organism functions, i.e., gene identification. Marker-aided selection is the identification and inheritance tracing of previously identified DNA fragments through a series of generations.
Applications of biotechnology in agriculture (plants)
- Crop Improvement
- Plants with built in resistance to pest and Diseases.
- Plants with built in tolerance to environmental conditions
- Improved color and quality
- Plants that produce edible vaccines
- Improved taste and nutrition
- Improved handling qualities
- plants that produce plastics, fuels, and other products
- plants for environmental cleanup
- pesticides made from naturally-occurring microorganisms and insects
Applications of biotechnology in agriculture (animals)
- Increased milk production
- leaner meat in pork
- growth hormones in farm-raised fish that result in earlier market-ready fish
- Animals engineered to produce human proteins for drugs, including insulin and vaccines
- Disease tolerance
- Exact copies of desired stock
- Increased yields
- Microorganisms introduced into feed for beneficial purposes
- Diagnostics for disease and pregnancy detection
- Animals engineered to produce organs suitable for transplantation into humans
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