What is Biotechnology?
It is the application of biological organism,
system or process to the manufacturing and service industries. It can
also be defined as the applications of scientific and engineering principles
to the processing of materials by biological agents to provide goods and
Need for Biotechnology.
Many people have heard of biotechnology but
few seem to know how to find out more about it. The following is the glimpse
for those who have found out to know more about it. With the advances is
Bioscience (both fundamental and applied) as well as the development of
individual disciplines such as biochemistry, microbiology, genetics,
molecular biology, engineering and other technologies, man’s thinking has
become more lucid and almost single mindedly directed towards harvesting
economic benefits. A beautiful blend of concepts and techniques pertaining
to the above-mentioned disciplines has given birth to the clever science
A. Fermentation Biotechnology
Microbial processing of raw materials for the
production of enriched food, (single cell protein and specific flavor)
pharmaceutical and alcoholic beverages is known to as from time immemorial
days the process called fermentation.
The biological conversion of ethanol into acetic acid (vinegar),
isopropanal into acetone, glucose into gluconic acid and sorbitol into
sorbose are explicit examples of bioconversion.
III. Antibiotic Production
A practical definition of an antibiotic is a microbial product of low
molecular weight that specifically interferes with the growth of
microorganisms when it is present in very small amount. Commercially
antibiotics are the most important class of pharmaceuticals made by
microbial biotechnology process. In 1978, the worldwide bulk sales of the
four important groups of antibiotics namely the penicillin, the
cephalosporin, the tetracycline and erythromycin amounted to more than 60
IV. Production of Aminoacids and Vitamins
Aminoacids and vitamins are the primary metabolites and low molecular
weight compounds (up to 15 kDa). Generally microbes do not overproduce these
primary metabolites. However, there is a technology (genetic engineering) to
produce such strains which do over produce is thus exploited for the
Biogas, ethanol production, biophotolysis and hydrogen photo production,
utilization and degradation of cellulose and other non-conventional
bioenergy sources for the production of energy is one of the thrust areas
for both developing and developed countries.
VI. Mining and metal biotechnology
Mineral cycling, microbial transformation of metals, leaching and extraction
of metals by biotechnological techniques are novel, economic and
environmental friendly techniques.
B. DNA Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering
I. Recombinant DNA and Genetic Engineering
Desired genes (short sequences of DNA) can be restricted (cut) and isolated
with the help of restriction enzymes (endonucleases) and Agarose Gel
With the help of vectors (Plasmid / Phage) these desired genes can be
cloned and selected by probing techniques. These genetically engineered
microbes, plant crops and animals are going to play a vital role in the
poverty alleviation and malnutrition in near future. Genetically engineered
salinity and drought resistant plants, plants with insect repellent proteins
and fruits with delayed ripening are boon to our society which are the
inventions by biotechnological skills. Genetically engineered (cloned)
animals are having high milk and meat yielding potentiality.
II. Public Health and DNA Biotechnology
Hybridomas and preparation of monoclonal antibodies, lymphokines, MHC and T
Cell cloning are having many applications on human health especially on the
cancer therapy and viral disease treatment.
Production of human insulin is the hallmark of
commercial utility of microbial biotechnology. In the same facet the
production of interferon, growth hormone and other hormones and vaccines
with the help of microorganisms are definitely going to play a pivotal role
in human well being and economy soon.
III. DNA Biotechnology and Agriculture
New varieties of (high yielding and disease
resistant) crop and medicinal plants are created by transferring genes from
different biotic and synthetic sources into them. It is now possible to
transfer foreign gene into plant cells, which can transform it to a
transgenic plant. Herbicide tolerance; resistance to insect pest; resistance
to viral diseases; control of pathogenic bacteria, fungi and parasitic
nematodes; nitrogen fixation; phosphate solubilisation; ability to grow in
harsh environment and delayed ripening of fruits are some of the
biotechnological applications in agriculture.
IV. Biotechnology and Pollutant Degradation
By strain improvement (genetic engineering) techniques naturally available
(native) microorganism which are degrading and detoxifying solid organic
wastes and waste water by enhanced production of their enzymes such as
protease, lipase, cellulose, hemicellulose, pectinose, ligninase etc. have
opened a new era in pollution control. Therefore reclaiming thousands of
hectares of wasteland for agricultural purposes and millions of gallons of
water for irrigation have come as boon of biotechnological waste land and
water treatment plants.
C. Cell Biotechnology and Recent advancements
Plant and animal cell (tissue) cultures; transformation and raising mutants
in them using plasmid and phage gene transfer techniques along with
protoplasmic and cell fusion are evincing some of the biotechnological
spotlights. The above techniques have the potentiality to give us the
following: a) hybrid antibiotics, b) cell immobilization c) production of
biomolecules such as essential aminoacids, d) high temperature resistant
enzymes, e) vaccines (hepatitis), f) thoumatin (sweetener) g) biofertilizers,
h) biopesticides, i) biofilters, j) biofuels, k) biochips and l) biosensors
Need for biotechnology specialization
Advances in Science & Technology and Engineering have opened many
avenues such as biomedical engineering, biochemical engineering, protein
engineering, genetic engineering etc., which are growing very rapidly due to
the advances in information technology.
Undergraduate and Postgraduate students from agriculture, botany,
biochemistry, biotechnology, chemical engineering, home science, medicine,
molecularbiology, microbiology, nutrition, paramedical sciences, veterinary
science, zoology and after undergoing a training program on basic techniques
of biotechnology and bioinformatics in our R & D lab would find
themselves fit in any R & D lab related to biotechnology and
bioinformatics, diagnostic and investigative laboratories of biotechnology
and biomedical engineering from India and abroad including US.
Students who have higher qualification in any
one of the above disciplines can earn much higher salary than what is
mentioned below. Today biotechnology industries are the hottest business,
which have the efficacy to surpass any other business in India due to the
Low cost labor.
Availability of scientifically and technologically educated
Immense skill and ability in terms of quality they do possess
Rupee Vs Dollar ratio
Biotechnological application in all the human economic
Therefore, it is not surprising to see new biotechnology companies sprouting
in both urban and rural areas of India, which could give local placements
with nice pay scale for those who are technically qualified apart from their
Globally thousands of different job opportunities being created in both
developed and developing countries like UK and US who are keen in
diversification of their multinational companies in setting up
biotechnological industries in major cities and towns throughout our
Graduates and postgraduates after this training program could find easily themselves be employed
in U.S.A. Thereby, they can earn around 2500 – 5000 US dollars (Rupees.
1,20,000 – 2,40,000) / month at ease.
The time has come for tapping this unexplored resource of our country, which
could take up our country par with the western world in per capita income.
Biotechnology industries which are attracting billions of US dollars
investments in India and expected to grow at a rate of 20 – 30 % per year.
your life for Excellence !
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