SSC General Science & Technology Genetics Notes - Biotechnology and Genetics

Notes - Biotechnology and Genetics

Category : SSC


Biotechnology and Genetics


·                     Biotechnology, generally speaking, is any technique that is used to make or modify the products of living organisms in order to improve plants or animal or to develop useful microorganisms.

·                     In modem terms, biotechnology has come to mean the use of cell and tissue culture, cell fusion, molecular biology, and in particular, recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) technology to generate unique organisms with new trait or organisms that have the potential to produce specific products.

·                     The origin of biotechnology can be traced back to prehistoric times, when microorganisms were already used for processes like fermentation. Although a molecular biologist may consider cloning of DNA to be the most important event in the history of biotechnology, the latter has actually been rediscovered in 1970s for the third time during the last century.

·                     In 1920s, Clostridium acetobutylicum was used by Chaim Weizmann for converting starch into butanol and acetone; the latter was an essential component of explosives during World War I. This raised hopes for commercial production of useful chemicals through biological processes, and may be considered as the first rediscovery of biotechnology in the last century.

·                     Similarly, during World War II (in 1940s), the production of penicillin (as an antibiotic discovered by Alexander Flemming in 1929) on a large scale from cultures of Penicillium notatum, marked the second rediscovery of biotechnology. This was the beginning of an era of antibiotic research.

·                     The third rediscovery of biotechnology is its recent reincarnation in the form of recombinant - DNA technology, which led to the development of a variety of gene technologies and is thus considered to be the greatest scientific evolution of the last century.

·                     Although the term sounds contemporary, biotechnology is not new Over 9,000 years ago, people discovered that microorganisms could be used to make bread, brew alcohol, and produce cheese. Although this process of fermentation was not thoroughly understood at that time, its use still constitutes a traditional application of biotechnology

·                     What is new, however, is the extent of applications and sophistication of biotechnology techniques currently employed. Researchers car manipulate living organisms and transfer genetic material between organisms. Genetic engineering, the specific modification or transfer of genetic material, underlies modem biotechnological innovations

These current applications of biotechnology are predominantly practised in the fields of agriculture and medicine. Modem technique- allow for the production of new and improved foods. Virus resistant crop plants and animals have been developed and advances in insect resistance have been made. Biotechnology applications vaccines for malaria, and improved ways of producing insulin. Diagnostic tests for detecting serious diseases such as hereditary cancers and Huntington's chorea have been developed as well as ways of detecting and treating AIDS. Biotechnology is also being applied in the areas of pollution control, mining and energy production. Genetically engineered microorganisms and plants are used to clean up toxic wastes from industrial effluents and oil spills. Biotechnology applications have also been introduced into the forestry and aquaculture industries. These strategies offer hope for conservation biologists. Genetic methods can be used to identify particular populations of endangered species.

·                     Overall, biotechnology has significantly impacted and improved the quality of life for people on this planet. And it does not end there. Complementing the creative endeavours of researchers and engineers are the efforts to commercialise biotechnology products with the input of business in the field of medicine have resulted in new antibiotics management and marketing personnel. The expertise of intellectual property and patent lawyers are also a necessary component in the process. New career opportunities in the area of bioinformatics are on the increase.

·                     There are also applications of biotechnology that do not use living organisms. Examples are DNA microarrays used in genetics and radioactive tracers used in medicine.

·                     Red biotechnology: Red biotechnology is applied to medical processes. Some-examples are the designing of organisms to produce antibiotics, and the engineering of genetic cures through gene manipulation.

·                     White biotechnology: White biotechnology, also known as grey biotechnology, is biotechnology applied to industrial processes. An example is the designing of an organism to produce a useful chemical. White biotechnology tends to consume less resources than traditional processes used to produce industrial goods.

·                     Green biotechnology: Green biotechnology is biotechnology applied to agricultural processes. An example is the designing of transgenic plants to grow under specific environmental conditions or in the presence (or absence) of certain agricultural chemicals. One hope is that green biotechnology might produce more environment- friendly solutions than traditional industrial agriculture.

·                     Bioinformatics: Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field which addresses biological problems using computational techniques. The field is also often referred to as computational biology. It plays a key role in various areas, such as functional genomics, structural genomics, and proteomics, and forms a key component in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector.

·                     Blue biotechnology: The term blue biotechnology has also been used to describe the marine and aquatic applications of biotechnology, but its use is relatively rare.


·         8000 BC: Evidence that Mesopotamian people used Selective breeding (artificial selection) practices to improve livestock

·         6000 BC: Brewing beer, fermenting wine, baking bread with the help of yeast   

·         4000 BC: Chinese made yoghurt and cheese with lactic acid  producing bacteria

·         1500 AD: Plant collecting around the world

·         1590 AD: The microscope is invented by Zacharias Janssen.

·         1675 AD: Microorganisms discovered (using first microscope)

·         1856 AD: Gregor Mendel discovered the laws of inheritance

·         1919 AD: Kari Ereky' an agricultural engineer, first used the word biotechnology'.

·         1953 AD: James D. Watson, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and Francis Crick described the structure of DNA.

·         1975 AD: Method for producing monoclonal antibodies developed by Kohler and Milstein.

·         1980 AD: Modem biotech is characterised by recombinant DNA technology.

·         1994 AD: FDA approves of the first GM food from CALENE: ?Flavr Savr? tomato.

·         1997 AD: British scientists from the Roslin Institute reported cloning a sheep, called Dolly.                  

·         2000 AD: Completion of a "rough draft" of the genome in Human Genome Project.

·         2002 AD: Researchers sequence the DNA of rice, the first crop to have its genome decoded.

·         2003 AD: The human genome project is finalised.

·         2004 AD: The PDA proves the first monoclonal antibody that is an antiangiogenic, inhibiting the growth of blood vessels?or ? angiogenesis-for cancer therapy.

·         2006 AD: The FDA approves are recombinant vaccine against human papillomavirus, which causes genital warts and can cause cervical cancer.

·         2007 AD: Scientists discover how to use human skin cells to create embryonic stem cells.

·         2008 AD: Chemists in Japan create the first DNA molecule made almost entirely of artificial parts. The discovery can be used in the fields of gene therapy.

·         2009 AD: U.S. President Barack Obama signs executive order freeing up federal funding for broader research on embryonic stem cells.

·         2010 AD: Harvard researchers report building lung on a chip technology Dr. J. Craig Venter announced "completion of synthetic me by transplanting synthetic genome capable of self-replication into a recipient bacterial cell.                           

·         2011 AD: Trachea derived from stem cells transplanted into human recipient.

·         2012 AD: FDA issues draft rules for bio similar drugs.


Biotech Research & Development in India

·         The setting up of a separate Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science and Technology in 1986 gave a new impetus to the development of the field of modern biology and biotechnology in India.

·         It has established 14 autonomous institutions to conduct research in various relevant fields.

·         The biotech industry has consistently maintained a growth rate of 28% over the last decade.

·         46 products have been commercialised in the country.

·         Highlights of the recent work of the department are:

§  Established seven new institutions designed to do both basic science and affordable technology research

§  Established three new bioscience clusters in Faridabad, Bangalore and Mohali

§  fully operationalised two schemes for supporting industry partnership

²  Small Business Innovative Research Initiative

²  Biotechnology Industry Partnership Programme- Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIPP-BIRAC)

§  Acquired cabinet approval for establishing a science based totally autonomous biotechnology regulatory authority.

·         The Department has signed MoU with the partner institutions for creating Bio-Cluster Board, a legal entity for its management and to synergise their intellectual strength and facilities to create seamless campus.

·         British Consortium of India Ltd. (BCIL) is implementing schemes in North East region for students from that region to get Research Assistant fellowships and Biotech Industrial Training Programmes.

·         The department is in the process of implementing the Shahid Jameel Committee's recommendations for supporting projects in biotechnology related areas.



·         The department is implementing an integrated human resource development programme.

·         The department initiated post graduate programmes in six universities in 1985-86 to ensure high standards of teaching and to generate critical mass of trained manpower.

·         The programmes have been extended to 70 universities now.

·         Other initiatives include:

§  Star college scheme for improvement of science education at undergraduate level.

§  In the North East region, the department is supporting the Entrepreneurship Development Programme in Biotechnology for setting up of new viable Biotech enterprises.



Agriculture Biotechnology

·         Crop Biotechnology programme has shown good progress on development of suitable transgenic crops resistant/tolerant to various biotic/abiotic stresses and crop improvement trust colony through marker aided selection

·         Crop Biofortification has been improved.

·         Projects on application of RNAi technology in gene silencing for developing superior cultivars has been supported.

·         Two new rice varieties released are:

§  improved Pusa Basmati

§  improved Samba Mahsuri

·         A major project on Next Generation Challenge Programme on Chickpea Genomics is being pursued.

·         A new programme on Phenomics and Genomics of Ragi was taken up.

·         Other crops developed in the Phase II of Programme Support for Agricultural Biotechnology include:

§  Heat stress tolerant wheat

§  Bunchy top virus resistant banana

§  Charcoal resistant sorghum

§  fusarium wilt resistant pigeonpea

§  Low phytate maize

·         The National Plant Gene Repository facility has been strengthened for collecting important plant genes and promoters collected by our various institutes, their safe storage and redistribution.


Bio-fertilisers & Bio-pesticides

·         Recently mycorrhiza biofertiliser technology has been transferred to the industry.

·         Current emphasis is on:

§  development of integrated nutrient management packages for plantation crops

§  development of liquid fertilisers

§  development of microbial for various uses



·         Focus of the programme is on:

§  bioprospecting

§  inventorisation

§  characterisation, value addition and sustainable utilisation Of bioresources

§  relevant training, capacity building and awareness generation


Plant Biotechnology

·         India contributed towards the sequence of chromosome-5 of tomato and provided support to generate 5-fold sequence coverage of the entire genomes by Next Generation Sequencing technology.

·         Molecular marker based breeding programme was initiated in Eucalyptus to develop linkage maps and identify Quantitative Trait Loci and their applications in breeding.

·         A network programme on Saffron has been initiated.


Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

·         An ex-situ germplasm bank for conservation of important medicinal and aromatic plants of Manipur hills has been established.

·         Agronomical practices have been standardised for cultivation of patchouli in Brahmaputra valley and Tripura.

·         DBT-Ranbaxy project found a potential Dengue virus inhibitor from herbal sources.


Animal Biotechnology

·         The department is taking up various programmes for enhancing the productivity and reproductive efficiency of livestock animals since its inception using molecular tools.

·         The department has successfully demonstrated embryo transfer technology and its role in productivity enhancement in cattle.

·         The department has now initiated programmes for production of cloned buffalo embryos using somatic cell nuclear transfer technique and also for production of transgenic animals.


Aquaculture and Marine Biotechnology

·         Projects were supported on:

§  aquaculture feed

§  development of therapeutic feed

§  Identification of novel bioactive molecules. marine extremophiles

§  molecular characterisation

§  induced maturation of shrimp

§  production of male ornamental fish

§  development of molecular markers for disease resistance, diagnostics and vaccines



·         A Consortium Programme on Mulberry Genomics has been initiated during the year involving four institutions.


Basic Research in Modern Biology

·         Noteworthy research highlights include:

§  role of anti-ant sigma factor in conferring resistance to several cell wall active antibiotics

§  generation of full length channel rhodopsin in yeast expression system


Medicinal Biotechnology

·         Support is extended to research on

§  infectious disease biology

§  chronic disease biology

§  vaccine

§  human genetics and genomics


Infectious Disease Biology

·         Programmes were supported to develop preventive, therapeutic and diagnostic tools for infectious diseases.


Chronic Disease Biology

·         Priority areas include path-biological aspects of cancer, pathway-discovery, drug-interventions, biomarkers, etc.

·         DRT has set up a Curcumin Clinical Pharmacology Lab at ATREC Mumbai for pharmacological assessment of curcumin.


Vaccine Research and Development

·         Phase III trials of oral rotavirus vaccine 16E is being carried out.

·         Research on vaccine delivery vectors is also underway.


Stem Cell Research

·         An institute for stem cell biology and regenerative medicine has been established at Bengaluru.

·         Three young scientists are being trained in top laboratories in USA through a DBT overseas scheme.



·         Several projects have been implemented in niche areas like

§  Biomaterials for various biomedical application

§  Biosensors

§  Biomedical devices

§  Bioinstrumentation and tissue engineering


Human Genetics and Genetics Analysis

·         Major programmes initiated involving clinicians, molecular geneticists and anthropologists in human genetics and genome analysis


Environmental Biotechnology

·         The main focus was on

§  Development and use of biotechnological tools for environment as well as biodiversity conversation

§  Development of mitigation technologies for climate change

§  Development of microbial technologies for environment improvement

§  Development of treatment process for industrial effluent

§  Bioremediation of xenobiotic compounds

§  Characterization of biodiversity


Nano-science biotechnology

·            A process was developed for delivery of active molecules to nucleus and brain

·            NaO-ZnO film was used as smart food packaging material with anti-bacterial properties


RNAi Technology Platform

·         Used in

§  Management of diseases of important crop plants

§  Conferring attributes to the plant to combat biotic and abiotic stresses

§  Management of various diseases, pests, shelf life extension of fruits and vegetables


Energy Bioscience Programme

·         Bio-ethanol and bio-diesel are being focused for scale-up

·         Bio-butanol and bio-hydrogen are alternative in the experimental stage



Programmes for SC/ST and Rural Population

·         Funding is provided for:

§  Demonstration and training activities

§  Diffusion of technology for target groups

§  Creating awareness on various income and employment opportunities

§  Promotion of agro-technologies with introduction of hybrids, new crops, diseases / stress resistant varieties

§  Popularization of commercial crops of industrial and pharmaceutical importance


Program for Women

·         Programmes supported include

§  Training

§  Field demonstration

§  Extension activities

§  Enterprise development


Biotech Product and Process Development                      


Industry Schemes                                             

Small Business Innovation Research Initiative                        

·         Supports R & D, process and product development in industry     

·         Currently 52 projects are under operation


Biotechnology Industry Partnership Programme and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Programme

·         BIRAP has initiated an electronic journal consortium to facilitate access to over 900 journals to the scientific community and the industry

·         The cabinet has given approval to set up BIRAC under the BIPP scheme to support high risk futuristic technology and process development


R&D Scheme

·         Focus is on

§  Creation of process analytical technology based control for downstream biotech processes

§  Use of sub-critical \[C{{O}_{2}}\]for precipitation and stabilisation of ultra-fine particles of active pharmaceutical ingredients for pharmaceutical applications


Biotechnological Approaches for Food and Nutritional Security

·         A major scheme was initiated to address rehabilitation of children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition.




Bio-safety Research and Regulation

·         The programme envisages and ensures safety from the use of Genetically Modified Organisms and products thereof in research and in application to the user as well as the environment

·         It has a three-tier structure consisting of

§  Institutional Biosafety Committee

§  Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation in the DBT

§  Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee in the MoEF

·         The Biosafety regulatory system in the country is governed by Rules 1989 of Environment Protection Act, 1986.

·         RCGM has been reconstituted in August 2012 to evaluate, approve and monitor the safety related aspects of new and ongoing rDNA research activities.


Patent Facilitation and Policy Issues

·         Patent Facilitation Cell assists researchers in filing patent applications.


Biotechnology Information System Network

·         It consists of 165 institutions in its network.

·         A compendium of India Research Publications in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology from India? was released.

·         NEBI net comprises of more than 25 bioinformatics centres in ex North East states.

·         Three major consortium projects on bioinformatics in TB, Rice and Mango have shown excellent progress.


Biotechnology Parks and Incubators

·         Established to facilitate product enhancement and innovation through the development of a biotechnological industry cluster and to produce biotechnologists and entrepreneurs having strong foundation in research and innovation.


International Collaboration  

·         The department has bilateral and multilateral cooperation win Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, EU and USA.



·         The bio-cluster of NCR comprises of

§  National Institute of Immunology

§  Regional Centre for Biotechnology

§  Translational Health Science and Technology Institute

§  National Institute for Plant Genome Research

·         The Bangalore bio-cluster comprises of

§  National Centre for Biological Sciences

§  Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine

§  Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms



·         Cloning is the process of recreating an ?identical copy of an original organism or thing'. A cloning in the biological sense, therefore, is a single cell (like bacteria, lymphocytes, etc.) or multi-cellular organize that has been directly copied from and is, therefore, genetically identical to another living organism. Sometimes this term can refer to ?natural? clones made either when an organism reproduces asexual  or when two genetically identical individuals are produced by chance (as with identical twins), but in common parlance, a clone is an identical copy created intentionally.


·         Recombinant DNA Technology or DNA Cloning: The terms ?recombinant DNA technology,? ?DNA cloning,' 'molecular cloning,' or 'gene cloning' all refer to the same process: the transfer of a DNA fragment of interest from one organism to a self-replicating ?genetic element such as a bacterial plasmid. The DNA of interest can then be propagated in a foreign host cell. This technology has been around since the 1970s, and it has become a common practice in molecular biology labs today.


·         Scientists studying a particular gene often use bacterial plasmids to generate multiple copies of the same gene. Plasmids are self-replicating extra-chromosomal circular DNA molecules, distinct from the normal bacterial genome. Plasmids and other types of cloning vectors are used by Human Genome Project researchers to copy genes and other pieces of chromosomes to generate enough identical material for further study.


·         To ' clone a gene,' a DNA fragment containing the gene of interest is isolated from chromosomal DNA using restriction enzymes and then united with a plasmid that has been cut with the same restriction enzyme. When the fragment of chromosomal DNA is joined with its cloning vector in the lab, it is called a 'recombinant DNA molecule.' Following introduction into suitable host cells, the recombinant DNA can then be reproduced along with the host cell DNA.


·         Reproductive Cloning: Reproductive cloning is a technology used to generate an animal that has the same nuclear DNA as another currently or previously existing animal. Dolly was created by reproductive cloning technology. In a process called 'somatic cell nuclear transfer' (SCNT), scientists transfer genetic material from the nucleus of a donor adult cell to an egg whose nucleus, and thus its genetic material, has been removed. The reconstructed egg containing the DNA from a donor cell must be treated with chemicals or electric current in order to stimulate cell division. Once the cloned embryo reaches a suitable stage, it is transferred to the uterus of a female host where it continues to develop until birth.


·         Dolly or any other animal created using nuclear transfer technology is not truly an identical clone of the donor animal. Only the clone's - chromosomal or nuclear DNA is the same as the donor. Some of the clone's genetic materials come from the mitochondria in the cytoplasm of the enucleated egg. Mitochondria, which are organelles that serve as power sources to the cell, contain their own short segments of DNA. Acquired mutations in mitochondrial DNA are believed to play an important role in the aging process.

·         Therapeutic Cloning: Therapeutic cloning, also called 'embryo cloning;' is the production of human embryos for use in research. To goal of this process is not to create cloned human beings, but rather to harvest stem cells that can be used to study human development and to treat disease. Stem cells are important to biomedical researchers because they can be used to generate virtually any type of specialized cell in the human body. Stem cells are extracted from the egg after ii has divided for 5 days. The egg at this stage of development is called a blastocyst. The extraction process destroys the embryo, which raises a variety of ethical concern. Many researchers hope that one day stem cells can be used to serve as replacement cells to treat heart disease. Alzheimer's, cancer and other diseases.



Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. Serving as a sort of repair system for the body, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell. Stem cells have two important characteristics that distinguish them from other types of cells. First, they are unspecialised cells that renew themselves for long periods through cell division. The second is that under certain physiological or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become cells with special functions such as the beating cells of the heart muscle or the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.


Types of Stem Cells

There are three main types of stem cells being investigated for their potential use in research and medicine. They differ in their degree of differentiation and ability to self-renew.


a. Embryonic stem cells: As their name suggests, embryonic stem cell are derived from embryos. Specifically, embryonic stem cells are derived from embryos that develop from eggs that have been fertilized in vitro-in an in-vitro fertilisation clinic-and then donated for research purposes with informed consent of the donors. They are not derive; from eggs fertilised in a woman's body. The embryos from which human embryonic stem cells are derived are typically four or five days old and are a hollow microscopic ball of cells called the blastocyst. The blastocyst includes three structures: the trophoblast, which is the layer of cells that surrounds the blastocyst; the blastocoel, which is the hollow cavity inside the blastocyst; and the inner cell mass, which is a group of approximately 30 cells at one end of the blastocoel. Embryonic germ cells are derived from the part of a human embryo or foetus that will ultimately produce eggs or sperms (gametes).


b. Adult stem cells: An adult stem cell is an undifferentiated cell found among differentiated cells in a tissue or organ, can renew itself, and can differentiate to yield the major specialised cell types of the tissue or organ. The primary roles of adult stem cells in a living organism are to maintain and repair the tissue in which they are found. Some scientists now use the term somatic stem cell instead of adult stem cell. Unlike embryonic stem cells, which are denned by their origin (the inner cell mass of the blastocyst), the origin of adult stem cells in mature tissues is unknown.

In addition, umbilical cord blood stem cells are currently being used to treat a range of blood disorders and immune system conditions. Stem cells that have the potential to develop into any of the cell types found in an adult organism are called pluripotent. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent. Stems cells that only have the potential to make a few cell types in the body are called multipotent. Adult stem cells appear to be multipotent. Cells that are capable of forming a completely new embryo that can develop into a new organism are called totipotent. A fertilised egg is totipotent. None of the stem cells used in research appear to have this capacity.



A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using techniques of genetics generally known as recombinant DNA technology. Recombinant DNA technology is the ability to combine DNA molecules from different sources into the one molecule in a test tube. Thus, the abilities or the phenotype of the organism, or the proteins it produces, can be altered through the modification of its genes.

The term generally does not cover organisms whose genetic makeup has been altered by conventional cross breeding or by 'mutagenesis' breeding as, these methods predate the discovery of the recombinant DNA technique. Technically speaking, such techniques are, by definition, genetic modification.

Experts anticipate the world's population in 2050 to be approximately 8.7 billion persons. The world's population is growing, but its surface area is not. Compounding the effects of population growth is the fact that most of the Earth's ideal farming land is already being utilised. To avoid damaging environmentally sensitive areas, such as rain forests, we need to increase crop yields for land currently in use. By increasing crop yields through the use of biotechnology, the constant need to clear more land for growing food is reduced.

Countries in Asia, Africa and elsewhere are grappling with how to continue feeding a growing population. They are also trying to benefit more from their existing resources. Biotechnology holds the key to increasing the yield of staple crops by allowing farmers to reap bigger harvests from currently cultivated land, while preserving the land's ability to support continued farming.


GM Food: Benefits and Controversies



?      Enhanced taste and quality

?      Reduced maturation time

?      Increased nutrients, yields, and stress tolerance

?      Improved resistance to disease, pests, and herbicides

?      New products and growing techniques



?      Increased resistance, productivity, hardiness, and feed efficiency

?      Better yields of meat, eggs and milk

?      Improved animal health and diagnostic methods



?      'Friendly' bio herbicides and bio insecticides

?      Conservation of soil, water and energy

?      Bioprocessing for forestry products

?      Better natural waste management

?      More efficient processing



?      Increased food security for growing populations

?      Controversies



?      Potential human health impact: allergens, transfer of antibiotic resistance markers, unknown effects

?      Potential environmental impact: unintended transfer of transgenes through cross pollination, unknown effects on other organisms (e.g., soil microbes) and loss of flora and fauna biodiversity.


Access and Intellectual Property

?      Domination of world food production by a few companies.

?      Increasing dependence on industrialised nations by developing countries

?      Biopiracy-foreign exploitation of natural resources



?      Violation of natural organisms' intrinsic values

?      Tampering with nature by mixing genes among species

?      Objections to consuming animal genes in plants and vice versa

?      Stress for animal



?      Not mandatory in some countries (e.g., United States)

?      Mixing GM crops with non-GM confounds labelling attempts Society



?      New advances may be skewed to interests of rich countries



?      Genes, which are carried on chromosomes, are the basic physical and functional units of heredity.

?      Genes are specific sequences of bases that encode instructions on how to make proteins. Although genes get a lot of attention, it is the proteins that perform most life functions and even make up the majority of cellular structures.

?      When genes are altered so that the encoded proteins are unable to carry out their normal functions, genetic disorders can result.

?      Gene therapy is a technique for correcting defective genes responsible for disease development.

Researchers may use one of several approaches for correcting faulty genes:

1.     A normal gene may be inserted into a non-specific location within the genome to replace a non-functional gene. This approach is most common.

2.     An abnormal gene could be swapped for a normal gene through homologous recombination.

3.     The abnormal gene could be repaired through selective reverse mutation, which returns the gene to its normal function.

4.     The regulation (the degree to which a gene is turned on or off of a particular gene could be altered.


How does gene therapy work?

·         In most gene therapy studies, a "normal" gene is inserted into the genome to replace an "abnormal," disease causing gene.

·         A carrier molecule called a vector must be used to deliver the therapeutic gene to the patient's target cells.

·         Currently, the most common vector is a virus that has been genetically altered to carry normal human DNA. Viruses have evolved a way of encapsulating and delivering their genes to human cells in a pathogenic manner.

·         Scientists have tried to take advantage of this capability and manipulate the virus genome to remove disease-causing genes arc insert therapeutic genes.

·         Target cells such as the patient's liver or lung cells are infected with the viral vector. The vector then unloads its genetic material containing the therapeutic human gene into the target cell. The generation of a functional protein product from the therapeutic gene restores the target cell to a normal state.

?      Besides the virus-mediated gene-delivery systems, there are several non-viral options for gene delivery. The simplest method is the direr introduction of therapeutic DNA into target cells. This approach is limited in its application because it can be used only with certain tissues and requires large amounts of DNA.  


PLANT TISSUE CULTURE                              

It is a technique of growing tissues or cells of multi cellular organisms in an artificial environment.

Tissue culture is the process whereby small pieces of living plant tissue (Explants) are isolated from a plant and grown on a semi defined or defined nutrient medium in controlled environmental conditions. Explants can include from large seedlings to small single cells and protoplasts.                



It has vast potential in                                                  

1.     Clonal propagation in a mass scale especially ornamental and horticulture plant.                                            

2.     Obtaining disease free plant material.

3.     Producing biologically active compounds for pharmaceutical industry.

4.     Genetic engineering in which foreign genetic materials are introduced to make tailor-made individuals.

5.     Producing crops which can withstand high salinity aridity and other inhospitable conditions.

6.     Conservation of endangered plant species and preserving by cryopreservation (freeze dry method).


Clonal propagation

Multiplying trees/crops of a hybrid variety or an endangered species on a mass scale within a short span of time using tissue culture.


Freeze-dry preservation

In India, National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resource (ICAR), is the prime organisation.



What is it?

It means the use of computer technology to solve biological problems on the molecular level. It involves creation and advancement of algorithms. Computational and statistical technique theory to solve problems related to analysis and management of huge biological data.


Why is it needed?

The greatest challenge molecular biology community is facing today is to make sense of the wealth of data that has been produced by the genome sequencing projects e.g. Human Genome Project has determined the sequence of entire human genome i.e. approximate 3 billion base pairs. Thus, sequence generation and its subsequent storage, interpretation and analysis are entirely computer dependent tasks.


How is it done?

Bioinformatics tools are software programmes that are designed to extract the meaningful information from the mass of data, e.g., BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool) is an algorithm for computing biological sequences.


Application of Bioinformatics

1.     Genome sequence analysis

2.     To trace evolution of organisms by meaning DNA changes

3.     Measuring biodiversity

4.     Analysis of gene expression and regulation

5.     Analysis of protein expression

6.     Analysis of mutations in cancers



What is it?

'Remediate' means to solve a problem and 'bio-remediate' means to use biological organisms to solve an environmental problem such as contaminated soil or ground water. These biological organisms can be bacteria fungi and green plants e.g. clean-up of oil spills by addition of bacteria.


How does it work?

In a non-polluted environment, microorganisms are constantly at work breaking down organic matter. When an organic pollutant such as oil contaminates this environment, some of the microorganisms would die while others capable of eating the organic pollution would survive. Bioremediation works by providing these pollution-eating organisms with fertilizer oxygen and other conditions that encourage their rapid growth. These organize would then be able to break down the organic pollutant at a corresponding faster rate. Bioremediation of a contaminated site-

1.    enhance growth of indigenous pollution eating bacteria by addition y fertilizers                             

2.    Addition of specialized exogenous microbe.



·         Though bio prospecting has the potential of putting earth's bio-assets to human use, this can lead to exploitation of poorer nations, who are rich m bio-assets but poor in resources and expertise to use them.

·         Bio prospecting is being equated with a new form of imperialism practiced by multinational companies.



These are cultured micro-organisms or organic products that biologically control or destroy the pests that cause damage to plants.



·         Non-chemical method

·         Rely on natural enemies of pests

·         Kills or cripple only targeted pests

·         No harm to non-targeted organism and the environment.


Disadvantages of Chemical Pesticides

Indiscriminate use can lead to several environment and health problems eg: Cotton farmers of AP.

1.     Development of resistance by insects to insecticides.

2.     Elimination of a host of friendly insects honey bees, pollinators, Nitrogen fixing bacteria, etc.

3.     Accumulation of pesticide residue in the food, fodder and feed cause health hazards.

4.     In the absence of natural enemies certain pests grow with renewed vigor, e.g., Snakes killed by pesticides but rodents will increase.


Examples of Bio Pesticides

1.     Bacillus Spaerecus - Kills Mosquito vectors

2.     Bacillus Popilline ? Japanese Beetle

3.     Granulosis Virus - Control hornworms in Cassava plants.



·         Cultured micro-organisms which enrich the soil with nutrients.

·         It can be certain strains of bacteria, algae or fungi.


Various Types

·         Rhizobium, blue-green Algae - help fixing atmospheric nitrogen into soil.

·         Bacillus Spaerecus helps providing phosphates into plants.

·         Thiobacillus - for sulphates.


Advantages of Bio-Fertilisers

·         Don't cause any pollution in environment

·         Don't destroy other micro-organisms in soil

·         Don't turn soil acidic or alkaline

·         Don't contribute to soil erosion by breaking of soil structure

·         These are renewable and cost effective in long run.



·         Biofertiliseres are not developed to a stage, where it can be mass produced.

·         Can be an alternative to chemical fertilisers not replacement.

·         Is limited to certain crops under specific soil conditions.



Other Topics

Notes - Biotechnology and Genetics

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