Biotechnology: Definition and Principles

March 9, 2023 | By: Extramarks


Biotechnology is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful products. Biotechnology has become an important part of many industries like medicine, agriculture, and manufacturing. In this article, you will learn about what biotechnology is, as well as some principles that underlie it.

What Is The Definition of Biotechnology?

The basic concept of biotechnology involves using plants and living systems for the development of products. This process can use a variety of different techniques and is often associated with genetic engineering.

Basics of Biotechnology

The word ‘biotechnology’ is derived from the Greek words bios (life) and techne (art). Biotechnology refers to the application of living organisms or their products in developing new solutions for human needs. The term was coined by British scholar Samuel Butler who used it as a synonym for science applied to life-related enterprises.

Biotechnology basics have been around for a long time. The first known use of biotechnology was the cultivation of yeast by ancient Egyptians to create beer and wine about 12,000 years ago. 

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Recognized as one of the oldest branches of engineering, Biotech is defined as “the application of biological organisms or their products in developing new solutions to human needs, especially when those solutions are not found in nature.”

Biotech is a 300 billion dollar industry with more than 300 biotech companies and 17 countries ranked among the world’s top 20 biotechnology research centers. Biotechnological innovations have had an enormous impact on agriculture, healthcare, food production, and environmental protection. It is important to understand the basic concept of biotechnology in order to understand its principles and processes. 

Principles of Biotechnology

According to the definition of Biotechnology, it is a field of applied biology and natural sciences. It uses the principles of genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and other life sciences to develop products or processes that improve our lives. It is essential to understand biotechnology principles and processes. Hence, below is a detailed explanation regarding principles of biotechnology:

1) Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering is a technique that alters the DNA of an organism to create new genes and/or traits in living organisms. It is one of the core principles of biotechnology that you need to be well-versed in. This can be done by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or using recombinant DNA methods. It may also refer to conventional breeding techniques as well as newer genetic manipulation technologies such as gene edits, RNA interference, and genome editing.

Uses Of Genetic Engineering

With this technology, we can create high-yielding crop plants resistant to herbicides or insects, for instance. This technique is used in the production of foods such as genetically modified corn (maize). Genetic engineering has also been applied in medical research to produce new medicines, e.g., human insulin. 

Genetic engineering is also used to produce biofuels; for example, genetically modified yeast can be used to turn sugars into ethanol fuel. This technique could help in the future by providing food and fuels as well as medicines for a growing world population.

The Principles of Genetic Engineering

1. The biotechnology process of gene splicing involves extracting the desired gene from one cell and inserting it into another.

2. It is also called recombinant DNA technology.

3. Genetic engineering can be used to insert desirable genes in order to improve the quality or quantity of produce, eliminate allergens, create disease-resistant plants, etc.

Process of Genetic Engineering:

1. The process begins by isolating the gene of interest.

2. It is inserted into a host organism such as bacteria, viruses, or animal cells.

3. It can also be done with plant and animal genes in vitro (outside living organisms).

4. A vector(s) is used to transfer this DNA molecule from one cell to another.

5. The vector can be a simple molecule that tricks the cell into absorbing it or an intricate virus with parts to inject its own DNA inside cells.

6. Once transferred, the gene is inserted in the place of existing genes and replicated as part of the normal cellular replication process. This results in daughter cells where new copies are made containing the added gene.

7. These daughter cells can then be used to create a new organism with the desired gene or inserted in another cell from which other organisms are derived.

The methods of genetic engineering:

1. Recombinant DNA technology, also known as recombination cloning; where genes and pieces of DNA are cut out of one organism’s genome and inserted into the genome of another organism.

2. Genome editing is a technique that can be used to modify and rewrite DNA sequences with precision by cutting out, adding, or altering sections of the gene sequence.

3. This technology has led to dramatic advances in our understanding of how genes work together and could ultimately lead to treatments for certain diseases such as HIV.

4. Transgenesis is the process of inserting a gene from one species into another, sometimes to make it resistant to certain diseases or environmental conditions.

2) Bioprocess Engineering

One of the most noted and integral principles of biotechnology is Bioprocess engineering. Bioprocess engineering is the process of designing and managing biological systems. This typically includes production, control, optimization, and qualification of bioproducts and processes through life sciences. 

It involves fundamental understanding as well as application of physical science such as thermodynamics or chemical kinetics for modeling biochemical reactions.

Bioprocess Engineering is also responsible for process control and plant design, as well as developing monitoring systems, production methods, and quality assurance.

Principles of Bioprocess Engineering:

1. This biotechnology Process design requires considering bioreactor parameters such as volume capacity, residence time, retention of materials, etc., to maximize production while minimizing costs.

2. This is done by integrating the biochemical and mechanical design of a process, which both have to be optimized for maximum production.

3. The Bioprocess Engineering principles also include optimization at multiple levels, such as cellular replication or protein expression, to achieve desired product qualities.

4. Another key principle involves maximizing the use of available nutrients within bioreactors in order to minimize input costs.

5. The Bioprocess Engineering principles also include understanding the biochemical reaction process, a systems engineering approach for optimizing bioreactor design, and integration between different aspects of the biological production system such as biomass growth or protein expression.

Process of Bioprocess Engineering:

1. The Bioprocess Engineering process begins with understanding the needs of customers and what they want to produce.

2. It then involves designing a manufacturing system that can deliver quality products for those specified requirements at minimum cost.

3. This includes selecting optimum bioreactor types, best growth conditions, and engineering control systems for maintaining desired production levels.

Finally, the process ends with designing and implementing a Quality Management system to ensure product quality is maintained.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is biotechnology?

According to Biotechnology definition biology has been defined as the application of biological sciences to industrial processes. It includes a variety of industries such as genetic engineering, molecular biology, and synthetic chemistry. The principles are based on understanding how cells function in order to manipulate them for different applications.

Discuss Recombinant DNA technology

Recombinant DNA technology is the use of molecular biology to create and modify biological molecules for our own purposes. This includes techniques such as genetic engineering, in which genes are taken from one organism and put into another or synthetic chemistry, using new procedures to make chemicals not found in nature.

How Do Bioreactors Help? Explain With Examples

Bioreactors can help in many ways, from isolating substances to producing them on a large scale without the need for atmospheric pressure or temperature.
Examples include:
1. Extraction of proteins and lipids from yeast cells
2. Fermentation of yeast using glycerol as an energy source (synthetic biology)
3. Production of recombinant proteins and pharmaceuticals, such as human insulin

Is Genome Editing A Successful Method For Genetic Engineering?

The success of a genome editing technique depends on the end goal. For example, if we want to replace one gene in an organism with another, it can be successful as long as there is only one copy of that gene in the cell.

Last Updated on October 17, 2023

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