PinkMonkey Online Study Guide-Biology
CHAPTER 10: BIOTECHNOLOGY
Definition : "Biotechnology is the industrial application of biochemistry, biology, microbiology, chemical engineering, genetic engineering etc. in order to make the best use of the capabilities of micro-organisms, cultured tissues, cells, etc. for the benefit of mankind."
In other words, biotechnology is the use of living organisms
or of substances obtained from them in industrial processes, using modern
scientific and engineering principles. This is a comparatively recent
branch of immense applied value even though use of microbial activity
has been in practice since the early ages (e.g. formation of alcohol by
fermentation process or formation of curd and other milk products).
During the past 2-3 decades, biotechnology has brought
total revolution and sophistication in various fields such as medicine,
agriculture, industrial microbiology etc.
For example, genetic engineering has made it possible
to map the whole genome of an organism, to make gene transfers, gene cloning,
etc. Recombinant DNA technology has helped to develop growth hormones,
interferon, vaccines against viral and malarial diseases, etc.
In agricultural sciences, inter-generic crosses have become possible due to cell culture and protoplast fusion techniques. Cell culture techniques are also useful in the industrial production of essential oils, alkaloids, pigments, etc.
Biofertilizers are non-toxic, biodegradable and produce a better yield of agricultural crops as compared to synthetic fertilizers (which are mostly non-biodegradable).
Biotechnology has helped to increase the industrial production of alcohol, antibiotics, vitamins, hormones, antibodies etc. by developing new and more efficient strains of microorganisms. Biotechnology has helped not only in the disposal of domestic wastes but also evolved techniques to make use of the biomass as a source of bioenergy.