What is biotechnology?

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The use of living organism or their products for the welfare of mankind is called biotechnology. Examples of biotechnology include genetically modified crops, biopharmaceuticals, and enzymes used in food processing. The ultimate goal of biotechnology is to improve the yield of products from living organisms by making modifications in their DNA.

DNA Replication

DNA is the basic heredity material in living organisms and responsible for the transfer of characters from one generation to the next generation.

DNA has a unique property to replicate itself. During the replication process, the DNA makes similar copies of itself. When a cell divides, DNA replication occurs in the nucleus.

Steps involved in DNA replication

The first steps in DNA replication is the unwinding of the double helical structure of the DNA molecule. Separation occurs between the two strands.

In the second step, each of these strands produces a new strand using all the four types of nucleotides present in the nucleus. In this way, one DNA molecule produces two daughter DNA molecules. Each DNA molecule has one new strand and one strand of parent DNA. The two daughter DNA molecules are the exact replicas of each other.

Relationship between DNA, genes and chromosome

The DNA, genes and chromosomes are related to each other.

  1. DNA is a hereditary material, which carries all the information from parents to the offsprings.
  2. Gene is the fundamental functional and structural unit of heredity. Genes occur on pairs and are located on chromosome. Each heredity character in an organism is controlled by a pair of genes.
  3. Chromosome are coloured bodies present in the nucleus, they are visible as thread like structures. Each chromosome is made up of DNA, coiled many times around a protein called histone.

Bacteria (singular Bacterium)  

Bacteria are unicellular organisms that do not contain a membrane bound nucleus. Each bacterium has a single chromosome present in the cytoplasm along with an extra chromosomal DNA molecule called plasmid which is also known as vector. The plasmid can be easily isolated from a bacterial cell and a gene can be attached with it. Thus the plasmid can carry a foreign gene into the bacterium. Plasmid serves as a vehicle for foreign genes in this manner.

Introduction of genes into a bacterium

Genetic engineering is an advanced technique in biotechnology. The scientists select and isolate the useful gene from one organism and insert it into another organism, usually into a bacterium. The organism that contains a foreign gene in its cell is called transgenic organism. The inserted gene produces the desired products in transgenic is an advanced technique in biotechnology. The inserted gene produces the desired products in transgenic organism.

Process of introducing gene into bacterium

The process of gene introduction into the bacterium is as under:

  1. The first step is the identification and isolation of gene (gene of interest) from donor organism.
  2. An enzyme called restriction enzyme is used to cut the gene from the DNA of donor organism .
  3. Plasmid DNA obtained from a bacterium is then used to connect the isolated gene.. The attached gene and plasmid DNA are collectively called recombinant DNA.
  4. The recombinant DNA is then introduced into a bacterium, the bacterium starts dividing and produces a bacterial colony.

Thus every bacterium of colony contains the desired gene and hence they produce the desired product (protein).

Biotechnology in daily life

Biotechnology has important role in our daily life. we are using different products of biotechnology some of the daily life products are:

  • Bakery products, yogurt, cheese, bread and vinegar.
    • Food crops modified by biotechnology.
    • Different medicines e.g. insulin for diabetes, vaccines and antibiotics.
    • Biodiesel, washing detergents, sugars, plastics etc.

Genetic modifications

Genetic modification is the change in the genetic organization of an organism using biotechnological techniques. This change can be produced by removal addition modification of gene. This process is used in crops to develop many characteristics in plants, for example, increased productivity, improved nutritional quality, novel products and disease resistance the organisms whose genes are modified are called genetically modified organism (GMQs) or transgenic organisms

Usefulness of genetically modified organisms

  • Micro organism resistance

By genetic modifications, microorganism resistant varieties of plants can be produced such as Ring spot virus resistant GM Papaya, grown in Hawaii. Similary, researchers are trying to produce transgenic chicken that will be resistant to the bacterial infections that cause food poisoning.

  • Improved nutrition and quality of food
  • Genetically modified sweet potatoes have been enhanced with proteins and other nutrients.
    • Production of better quality fruits and vegetables and increasing their shelf lives are also due to genetic modification.
    • Genetically modified fish have genes that promote the production of growth hormones. Salmonids, carps, and tilapias all experience increased growth as a result of this.
    • Microorganism resistant varieties can be produced through genetic modification such as ring spot virus resistant GM papaya.
    • Transgenic chicken are resistant to bacterial infections.
  • More milk or milk with fewer lactose or cholesterol is produced by transgenic cows.

Application of biotechnology

There are four main fields where biotechnology techniques can be applied. These are agriculture, health, food production and preservation and environment.

  1. Biotechnology and agriculture

Biotechnology has had a significant impact on agriculture, leading to the development of new crops that are more resistant to pests and diseases, can grow in harsh conditions, and have improved nutritional content. These crops are commonly referred to as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Some examples of genetically modified crops include:

Bt Cotton: This is a genetically modified cotton that produces a toxin called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is harmful to pests like bollworms. Bt cotton has reduced the use of pesticides in cotton farming, resulting in cost savings for farmers and improved environmental outcomes.

Golden Rice: This is genetically modified rice that has been engineered to produce beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. This is important in regions where vitamin A deficiency is common, as it can lead to blindness and other health problems.

Drought-resistant crops: Biotechnology has led to the development of crops that can withstand drought and other harsh environmental conditions. This is important in regions where water is scarce or where climate change is having a significant impact on agriculture.

Herbicide-tolerant crops: Biotechnology has also led to the development of crops that are tolerant to herbicides, allowing farmers to more effectively control weeds and reduce the need for manual labor.

Overall, biotechnology has the potential to improve the sustainability and productivity of agriculture, helping to feed a growing global population while minimizing the impact on the environment. However, it is important to consider the potential risks and benefits of biotechnology, and to ensure that appropriate regulatory frameworks are in place to ensure the safety of consumers and the environment.

  • Food production and preservation

Through the use of biotechnology, animals can produce high yields of milk and meat. Similar to this, better quality genes can be introduced to increase the quality of fruits and vegetables.

  • Health

Biotechnology techniques are also used for curing diseases and improving health. Identification of causes of diseases, production of medicines and correction of genetic defects etc. are the major contributions of biotechnology. One example is the preparation of insulin joining its gene with a plasmid (vector) inserted into the bacterium. Various biotechnology products that are used to save lives include:

  • Environment:

Environmental problem like pollution, degradation of land and sewage water are also resolved by using biotechnology. Microorganism e.g. using genetically modified bacteria, sewage and garbage are treated. Oil spills might potentially be cleaned up with them. Microbes, which are used as bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizer, are being developed by using biotechnology techniques.

Biotechnology’s role in addressing nutritional demands:

Biotechnology plays a vital role in meeting the nutritional needs of human population. We can enhance food production and nutrition by improvements in livestock  and plants using different techniques of biotechnology such as tissue culture and genetic engineering etc. An essential biotechnology approach is tissue culture.. We can get the types of crops and other plants, which give more production using this technique. Similarly, genetic engineering is used in animals for better production of milk and meat. For example, Neeli Ravi buffalo is produced for better production of milk and Nancy sheep for production of more meat. Such animals are very helpfull in addressing the nutritional needs. In short, biotechnology has a great importance in human life. We can succeed in meeting our food problems through biotechnology.

Added by: Sadiq Ameen member of https://writersclubpk.com/writers-directory/


To watch a video about the biotechnology click on the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqQqYy6UAOo

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