13.2 Biotechnology
  • Biotechnology is a field that uses technology or methods to manipulate organisms for the purpose of producing or modifying the results of a biological product.
  • Biotechnology aims to improve the quality of livestock or crop products as well as to develop the use of microorganisms for a specific purpose.
  • Since biotechnology involves various disciplines, each activity that involves the use of organisms for a particular interest has been differentiated according to certain colors.
  • There are ten types of activities that have been identified, but green, white, yellow and blue biotechnology are the main activities in biotechnology.

Applications of biotechnology in life:

  • Gene therapy
  • DNA profilling
  • Production of insect tolerant plants
  • Cleaning of oil spils

Gene therapy:

  • Gene therapy is used to treat or prevent a genetic disease.
    In gene therapy, normal genes are inserted into a patient’s genes to replace abnormal genes
  • Among the diseases that can be treated using gene therapy methods are cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and some types of cancer.

DNA profilling:

  • DNA profiling is a forensic technique used to identify individuals based on their DNA.
  • This is said so because, DNA is unique to everyone, except identical twins
  • The human DNA set is also different from the animal DNA
  • By using DNA samples extracted from blood, semen or skin, an individual can be identified.
  • This DNA profiling process was invented by Sir Alec Jeffreys at the University of Leicester in 1985
  • He was awarded the Copley medal for his accomplishments
  • The Copley Medal was the oldest medal before the Nobel prize was introduced

Applications of DNA profilling:

  • Identify criminal
  • Settle paternity and maternity dispute
  • Identify genetic disease
  • Determine suitability of organ donour and recipient

Steps used in DNA profilling:

  1. Blood,semen or skin sample obtained from an investigation scene
  2. DNA is extracted from the sample
  3. Restriction enzymes cut the DNA into different sizes of DNA fragments
  4. The DNA fragments of different sizes are then separated by gel electrophoresis
  5. DNA fragments of different sizes are transferred from the gel to a nylon membrane
  6. Radioactive probes are added to the nylon membrane.X-ray film is then placed on top of the nylon membrane
  7. X-ray film is processed to show the positions of DNA bands taht form the DNA profile

Productions of insect tolerant plants:

  • The use of thick cotton breeds that are tolerant to cotton pest caterpillars for example Bt cotton in cotton plantations has reduced the use of pesticides.
  • Bt plants are injected with a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a soil bacterium that can produce toxins.
  • This measure can save the cost of pesticides and increase cotton production.
  • Apart from cotton, other Bt crops are corn and eggplant.

Cleaning of oil spils:

  • Bioremediation is a method of cleaning contaminants using bacteria
  • This method is effective for treating oil pollution due to oil spills in the ocean.
  • Most of the molecules in petroleum crude oil and purified petroleum products can be decomposed biologically using bacteria.

Importance of biotechnology in life:

  • The field of biotechnology has grown rapidly in Malaysia
  • This field makes a contribution in human life especially in developing countries and developed countries.
  • Biotechnology is often associated with agriculture, industry, nutrition, medicine and the like.
  • Rapid developments in the field of biology and technology have been able to replace the old methods used by ancient societies to more sophisticated methods, in addition to being able to diversify products that bring benefits to humans.
  • Biotechnology not only contributes to the increase in nutritional, agricultural and medical yields but also helps to develop a country's economy, especially in the industrial sector.
Contributions of biotechnology to life:
Field Contributions
  • Produce the best livestock and crop breeds.The tissue culture method and cloning technique have expedited plant reproduction
  • Produce paddy varities which give more yield and mature faster
  • Animal cloning enables mass reproduction and produces disease-resistant clones
  • Use of hormones expedite animal growth and maturity
  • Can modify the genetic contents of an individual
  • Reduce risk of mental disease
  • Prevent specific diseases such as cancer and inherited diseases
  • Human with dwarf genetics can have normal children
  • Assist mothers with diffuclty to conceive
  • Can identify criminal based on tissue or body fluid such as blood,semen,skin or hair follicle
  • Microbes can expedite decay of waste products created by humans
  • Microbes can also degrade faeces completely
  • Reduce pollution to protect humans and the environenment