The term biotechnology was first coined by Karl Ereky in 1919. As its name indicates, it is not a single technology but a group of technologies that applied on living organism to make them productive and efficient from the previous one. If we trace the history then we find that Sumerians and Babylonians were the first who use fermentation biotechnology to make fermented liquor. They used yeast enzyme to make that liquor. At that time some people were also using crude biotechnology to make bread and cheese. As the time progressed, the applications of biotechnology to other fields expanded in the way that people started to make vinegar and wine. Later on, Pioneering work of Pasture and Robert Koch also helped in understanding the function and importance of microbes which were causing disease and spoiling the food items. Pasture demonstrated that souring of milk is caused by microbes and they are responsible for food spoilage. During the same time Robert Koch described that microorganisms are causative agents of disease in animals and humans. Later on Pasture’s and Koch’s work extended and considered as base of future work. German soldiers were also taking help from biotechnology to produce glycerol. They were using it as explosive material during 1st World War considering the fermentation as base (1914-1918).
The application of technologies (genetical, biochemical) on living organism to make or modify the products is called biotechnology. The achievements of biotechnology are described under
The bacteria (Bacillus theurengenesis) produce defensive protein against Lepidopteron species of insects. The gene producing this protein isolated from bacteria and incorporated into crops which were susceptible to Lepidopteron species of insects. This was done with help of biotechnology.
The crops that have Bt gene are rice, maize and cotton.
Glyphosate is a weed killer. It does not only kill the weeds also kill the crops by disturbing their metabolic pathway. The resistance against herbicide achieved by the introduction of Glyphosate resistant EPSP synthase gene into various species of plants having economic importance. Rice, wheat, maize and soybean are the crops with herbicide resistant gene.
Resistance for fungal Pathogen
Some plants contain resistant genes against fungal pathogen. The resistant gene produces chitinase and 1, 3 glucanase proteins which degrade the cell wall of fungi and stop its growth and development. These resistant genes isolated and incorporated into susceptible varieties of plants.
Increases the nutrient level
More nutritious foods with better quality have been produced with the help of biotechnology. Genes of available nutrient level increased or foreign gene of desired nutrients inserted into the staple food of that area. In this way disease caused by the deficiency that nutrient minimized. Some examples are
· Genetically engineered tomatoes have produced which contains increased level of nutrients such as Vit. A, Vit.C and carotenoids.
· Genes incorporated into rice which increased the available iron level which help in the remedy of anemic patients
· In 1992 Monsanto Company developed variety that has high content of starch. The genes of high starch content isolated from bacteria and incorporated in potato.
· Golden rice has developed which contains high amount of Vit.A.
· Fruits with more shelf life have been developed with the help of biotechnology.
· The storage quality of seeds have been improved with the help of biotechnology
Tissue culture techniques
The production of plants in artificial medium under aseptic condition is called tissue culture
· Rapid production of genetically identical individual through tissue culture techniques.
· Varieties developed in short time through this technique as compared to conventional breeding techniques e.g salt tolerant varieties have been produced by applying different levels of salt concentration on nutrient media.
· Virus resistant genotypes have been developed with the help of meristem culture.
· Haploid plants have been developed with the help of tissue culture techniques. These are good source of genetic and mutation studies
· Secondary metabolites have been produced through these techniques
· Seed less fruits have been developed through endosperm culture e.g guava, watermelon and citrus
· Interspecific crosses through these techniques are helpful in the production of new species and thus increase germplasm.
· Ornamental plants with beautiful appearance and have more demand been produced through micro propagation.
· Artificial seed produce through these techniques. It contained the genetic material of one parent in embryo.
The size of edible plant parts have been increased by increasing the ploidy level of that species e.g in tomatoes, cucumber and squashes.
Tomatoes spoiled quickly when they are detached from plant because ethylene production starts. Ethylene producing genes which express them late are inserted in tomatoes. This is done with the help of transformation techniques.
Male sterile genes have been transferred to those crops in which hybrid seed production is costly and requires more labor to emasculate. Male sterile genes have been transferred to the desired crop from donor crop. This is done with the help of biotechnology.
Diagnosis of plant pathogen
Early diagnosis of pathogen attack on plants is feasible with the help of ELISA, DNA probe and DNA marker. These techniques avoid us from severe loss of crops.
Application of yeast enzyme in wine making is very old. The enzyme used in wine making convert glucose into alcohol with the production of carbon dioxide.
Synthesis of detergents
Protease enzyme widely use in the detergent industry. They degrades the stains of sweets and grasses.
This is very old application of biotechnology. In it, fermentation progresses with the help of yeast enzymes. These enzymes convert the sugar of floor into alcohol and carbon dioxide, dough rises and CO2 trapped in bread.
Mechanical mining techniques were costly and time consuming. The birth of biominig removed drawbacks of the old techniques. It is cheap and quick technology because genetically engineered microorganism are used for mineral extraction e.g Thiobacillus feroxidan leach out copper from mine.
Rennets in dairy industry
Animal rennets use in dairy industry for manufacture of good quality cheese.
Genetically engineered bacteria produce insulin protein. This protein is helpful for Diabetes mellitus patient.
Vaccines stimulate the antigen to produce antibodies against pathogen and they make the immune system very strong. Plants produces vaccines with the help of biotechnology.
The technique in which therapeutic gene inserted in individual to correct the disease by removing faulty gene. Viruses are mostly used as vector for those genes
Cystic fibrosis, severe combined immune deficiency syndrome and liver cancer cured with the help of biotechnology
Cell and tissue transplantation
Biotechnology proved to be helpful in treating those diseases which arises due to cell and tissue defects. These defected tissue exchange with healthy one with the help of biotechnology.
Transplanting of organs from one specie to another. In 1984 it was practically observe in transplanting of baboon heart into 12 year old girl
Artificial blood synthesized with the help of biotechnology. It act as Hemoglobin carry and transport oxygen. It act as universal donor type. This is disease free and alternative to real blood
Screening of genetic abnormalities
Genetic abnormalities screened with the help of florescent in situ hybridization. Florescent probes helps in finding the location of genetic abnormalities on specific chromosome.
Testing for down syndrome and sex
The amniotic fluid is taken from the fetus and further it sent to lab for karyotyping. The karyotyping helps in identification of chromosome abnormalities.
Biotechnology also help us in
· DNA fingerprinting
· Waste water treatment and pollution control
· Paternity dispute
· Genetic counseling
· Artificial insemination
· Genes of prolificacy inserted into desired animal
· Solid waste management
· Production of serum albumin
· Monoclonal antibodies
V.K. Indra and T.A thrope.2005. Plant cell and tissue culture. Springer india( pvt).Ltd. Pp : 21-37
Ratledge and Kristiansen. 2004. Basic biotechnology. Press sundicate of the university of Cambridge .the pitt building thrumpington street. Cambridge CB2 IRP, united kingdom. Pp : 255-449
Brown D.C.W and T.A. Thrope.1995 . Crop improvement through tissue culture. World J. Microbiology and Biotech 11, 409-415