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Basic Biotechnology!!!

If you are a fresher in biotechnology or interested in learning what is Biotechnology??? Then I think you are in the right place?? This article provides an introduction to Biotechnology and tells you what it’s all about and its applications.

Take a look at the Key Concepts to proceed to know about each topic.

Key Concepts of Biotechnology:

I. INTRODUCTION

II. BIOTECHNOLOGY - CLASSIFICATION

III. MICROBIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

IV. PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY

V. ANIMAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

VI. INDUSTRIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

VII. ENVIRONMENTAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

VIII. MEDICAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

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I. INTRODUCTION

In order to be strong in Biotechnology you need to have strong basics in the following subjects like Biochemistry, Microbiology, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Immunology and Genetics where Biotechnology is just an application part of the above.

Biotechnology is the use of living organisms (microorganisms mostly) to manufacture pharmaceuticals and other products and to promote industrial processes. Microbes, such as bacteria, and fungi were first harnessed in this way, followed by plants (plant biotechnology) and most recently by animals (animal biotechnology). Biotechnology of course is an older technology though it became a familiar term only after 1970. “Old” biotechnology (Traditional biotechnology) includes well-established microbial processes such as brewing, sewage disposal, and the production of antibiotics. However, the term has become particularly familiar since the development of genetic engineering during the 1970s. Much “new” biotechnology uses organisms genetically altered to work more effectively than before, or to function in entirely new ways. Generally it is not good to say Genetic Engineering or Recombinant DNA Technology as Biotechnology. Any application or technology that uses the application of living organisms is Biotechnology.

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II. BIOTECHNOLOGY - CLASSIFICATION:

First classification can be done based on origin of Biotechnology discussed above like Traditional Biotechnology and Modern Biotechnology. Another classification is based on living organisms used like microbes, plant or animal Biotechnology. So the Industrial outcome of the products produced from these organisms bought into a term called Industrial Biotechnology. The oldest examples of what we now call biotechnology are of Industrial oriented like the manufacture of alcoholic beverages beer, wine. Many societies in the distant past discovered that sugary and starchy materials sometimes changed spontaneously, generating alcohol. The phenomenon was gradually brought under conscious control and in the 19th century the French chemist Louis Pasteur showed that fermentation was promoted by microbes. He also found that other micro-organisms, different in appearance, were responsible for processes such as vinegar production.

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III. BIOTECHNOLOGY WITH MICROBES

Now you need to understand that Microbial Biotechnology is just a term which has its varied applications. Generally all technology using Microbes are termed commonly as Microbial Biotechnology; like wise for Plant and Animal Technology.

Fermentation: Today, many other chemicals are made by fermentation (a term technically restricted to processes that occur in the absence of air.

e.g.: Alcohol (Ethanol) production by yeast using bioreactor

Industrial Use: Products include oxalic acid, used in printing and dyeing, propenoic acid (acrylic acid) used as an intermediate in the production of plastics, lactic acid for acidifying foods, and antifreeze.

Environmental application: Microbes also make many different enzymes, which are catalysts that promote chemical changes under much milder conditions than would otherwise be required. Their applications range from the removal of stains (by enzymes, incorporated in detergents that attack fats and proteins).

E.g.: Detergents use lipase and protease as cleansing agent for clothes.

Food Biotechnology: to the conversion of corn flour to high-fructose syrup, used to sweeten soft drinks, biscuits, and cakes. Plant and animal cells can also be cultivated in vast quantities, like microbes, to produce useful substances.

e.g.: In Baking of Breads using Saccromyces cerviceae; lactobacillus – curding of milk

Medical Biotechnology: Another major episode in the emergence of biotechnology was the production of penicillin from the mould Penicillium, initially on a very small scale, by Howard Florey and colleagues in Oxford during World War II. The process was soon scaled up, and other microbes were harnessed to manufacture a wide range of antibiotics (such as streptomycin for the treatment of tuberculosis). Today, biotechnology is facing a major challenge in developing new antibiotics to supplant those to which disease-causing bacteria have become resistant. One current development is the genetic engineering of micro-organisms to synthesize “hybrid antibiotics”, whose molecules differ from those produced naturally.

e.g.: streptomyces griseus --- Streptomycin.

Genetic Engineering: Biotechnologists now “program” bacteria to make many other types of drugs that the organisms could not otherwise produce. Human insulin, for the treatment of diabetes, is manufactured by bacteria into which genetic engineers have introduced the gene coding for that particular hormone. Unlike the types of insulin obtained from pigs and cows, it is identical with insulin secreted by the human pancreas. Human growth hormone (used to treat children who would otherwise reach abnormally short stature) is also made by bacteria carrying the relevant human gene.

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IV. PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY

Plant biotechnology has the same goal as traditional plant breeding: to develop crops and other plants with advantages such as resistance to pests and drought, and improved palatability and nutrient content. However, more precise and predictable results can now be achieved by modern techniques that allow individual genes to be transferred, in contrast to the large numbers of genes introduced when one plant is crossed with another by conventional methods. Tissue Culture, is a techniques used in Plant Biotech.

Insect Resistant Plants: A typical recent development was the development of maize that was resistant to the European corn borer—a pest that destroys 7 per cent of the world's annual maize crop.

e.g.: The inbuilt resistance was achieved by incorporating into the plant a gene normally carried by the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, which “instructs” the maize to produce a chemical toxic to many pests.

Hitherto, farmers have controlled the corn borer by spraying plants with either the bacterium or synthetic chemicals. However, this has been an imperfect solution because there are only a few days in the corn borer's life when spraying is effective.

Virus Resistant: Biotechnology has also yielded plants resistant to certain viruses, fungi, and roundworms, as well as varieties insensitive to the herbicides that farmers use to control weeds.

Genetic Modification: Quality characteristics can be improved too—for example, by increasing the levels of certain proteins that determine the suitability of wheats for making bread. Most recently, oilseed rape has been altered genetically to produce chemicals of potential industrial importance. Other plants could be used in the future to make vaccines more cheaply than by growing cultures of microbes. See also Genetic Modification of Food.

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V. ANIMAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

In-Vivo Fertilization: Ease of production is the motive behind the current emergence of biotechnology using animals. Just as microbes and plants can be altered genetically, so new genes may be introduced into fertilized embryos. Thus the human gene for alpha-1 antitrypsin, which is used to treat the chronic lung condition emphysema, has been incorporated into the DNA of sheep in such a way that it programmes the animals to produce the alpha-1 antitrypsin in their milk.

Transgenic Animals: Animal biotechnology has attracted criticism from animal welfare groups, which point out that some experiments have had adverse effects on the animals. However, scientists defending this type of work say that it is essential, from both ethical and safety standpoints, that the animals enjoy good health (indeed better health than most animals in the wild) and have a normal lifespan.

e.g.: The famous sheep Dolly is a Transgenic Animal, developed using somatic cell of the mother cell.

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VI. INDUSTRIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

Bioreactors play a major role in Industries. We can say The Ultimate aim of Industrial Biotechnologist is the Design of Bioreactor. All the industrial production like Enzymes, Alcohol, Acids like Citric Acid, Proteins are produced in Bioreactors.

Now you can ask, “What is the difference between Fermenter and Bioreactor?” A vessel using Bio (living substance) and bringing out a reaction is a Bioreactor. We can say our stomach is a bioreactor as it involves reaction between biochemicals. Now a bioreactor capable of bringing out a fermentation reaction (bubbling reaction) is called fermenter.

e.g.: Acetobacter aceti produces vinegar; hollow fiber bioreactor is used for Single cell protein production spirulina n chlorella

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VII. ENVIRONMENTAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

Bioremediation: A rapidly developing area of biotechnology is “bioremediation”, the use of microbes to break down pollutants in the environment, particularly the soil. In simple terms it is the Bio Degradation of pollution. One approach is based on the fact that contaminated land (such as the derelict site of a former gas works) often contains micro-organisms capable of attacking chemicals that would be toxic to many other types of living cell. Their growth can sometimes be massively increased by introducing nutrients or air into the soil. Another technique is to choose specific microbes for their detoxifying capacity on specific compounds.

Bioleaching: Bacteria are used in many countries to leach metals such as iron, zinc, and uranium out of inaccessible and low-grade ores. A tenth of the copper produced annually in the United States is recovered in this way. “Microbial mining” is increasing in importance as high-grade and easily accessible mineral deposits are depleted.

Biofertilizers: In order to improve the crop production, the Biofertilizers are of great use. The chemical fertilizers are of harmful and create toxic to humans if they consume the yield from those crops. To avoid those drawbacks, the biofertilizers are used now days.

e.g.: rhizobium and clostridium for Nitrogen Fixation.

Vermiculture Biotechnology: It is a branch of Biotechnology involving the employment of earthworms as versatile natural Bio-reactors for cleaning up the environment with cost effective waste management system. (It is to say that a small set up for Vermiculture was made up Mr. Ragunathan, Sr. Lecturer Biotech of Rajalakshmi Engineering College on his own effects in the college making use of canteen waste to provide nutrients to plants.)

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VIII. MEDICAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

Vaccine Technology: Biotechnology is beginning to revolutionize vaccine production. Formerly limited to weakened or killed versions of the microbes that cause disease (such as the two alternative types of polio vaccine), researchers can now turn totally harmless microbes into vaccines. This means introducing genes, taken from disease-causing micro-organisms that determine the production of particular antigens, which in turn, induce the recipient to make protective antibodies. The technique facilitates immunization against diseases for which fully satisfactory vaccines have not existed hitherto. It also opens up the possibility of engineering vaccines conferring protection against several infections simultaneously. A genetically engineered vaccine is already widely used against the liver infection hepatitis B. Another is helping to reduce the incidence of rabies in foxes in Europe.

Antibiotics: Many important antibiotics are produced by Moulds and Actinomycetes. The first antibiotic was reported by Alexander Flemming in 1929. Pencillin is extracted from penicillium notatum and Pencillin chrysogenum. It inhibits the growth of Gram Positive Bacteria.

Hybridoma Technology: Another technology for the production of Monoclonal Antibodies is used for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

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