Chapter:12

What are Biotechnology and its Applications?

Biotechnology

Biotechnology has found various applications in therapeutics, diagnostics, GMOs, processed and nutritionally enhanced food, bioremediation, waste treatment, energy production etc.

Biotechnological Applications in Agriculture

Food production can be increased through use of biotechnology:

  • ➥ Agro-chemical based agriculture
  • ➥ Organic agriculture
  • ➥ Genetically engineered crop-based agriculture
  • The Green Revolution has successfully met the demand of bulk grain production.
  • To overcome several limitations of agro chemical industries and conventional methods of agriculture plants, bacteria, fungi and animals with altered genes are used as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)s.

Objectives of Genetic Modifications

  • ➥ Abiotic stress tolerant (cold, drought, heat and salt) crops.
  • ➥ Less dependency on pesticides and insecticides.
  • ➥ Minimize post harvest losses.
  • ➥ Maximum mineral uptake (fertilizers) by plants.
  • ➥ Enhanced nutritional value of food, e.g., Vitamin โ€˜Aโ€™ enriched rice.

Insecticide And Pest Resistant Plants

Bt Cotton

Bt toxin gene isolated from Bacillus thuringiensis are cloned in plants to obtain insect resistant (against lepidopterans, coleopterans, dipterans) plants such as Bt cotton, Bt corn, rice, tomato, potato and soyabean.

Genes that Code Bt Toxin

  • Coded by a gene named โ€˜cryโ€™.
  • The proteins encoded by the genes cryIAc and cryIIAb control bollworms, cryIAb controls corn borer.

Pest Resistant Plants

Strategy used to develop pest resistance against nematode Meloidegyne incognitia (infects the roots of tobacco plants) is RNA interference (RNAi). Principle Involved: Silencing of a specific mRNA due to a complementary dsRNA molecule that binds to and prevents translation of the mRNA.

Biotechnological Application in Medicine

Genetically Engineered Insulin

  • In mammals, insulin is synthesized as a prohormone, which contains an additional chain called the C peptide.

Gene Therapy

  • Used to treat gene defect like adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficiency in a child / embryo by replacing non functional gene with functional gene.

Molecular Diagnosis

  • Early Diagnosis can be done using PCR & ELISA

Transgenic Animals

Animals that have manipulated DNA are known as Transgenic Animals.

Ethical Issues

  • Role of GEAC (Genetic Engineering Appraised Committee)โ€”It is a body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests (India) which is responsible for the approval of genetically engineered products in India.

Biosafety Issues

  • They refer to the procedures, policies, and principles to be adopted to safeguard the environment and the human population.

Biopiracy

  • Biopiracy designates the illegitimate appropriation of genetic resources and/or associated traditional knowledge.

Bio Patents

  • The patents of living organisms can include plant and animal species, and related biological and biotechnology enabled inventions.