Biotechnology and its Applications
The use of scientific techniques to improve plants, animals and microorganisms, is known as agricultural biotechnology. Biotechnology aims to improve crop performance in field by conferring resistance to pest and diseases and tolerance to environmental stresses. With the help of biotechnology, plants with high yield and high nutritional value can be produced.
Bt cotton is the first genetically modified crop to be approved for commercial cultivation in India. It consists of Bt toxin gene cloned from a bacteria named Bacillus thuringiensis. Bt toxin effectively works on nematodes, Lepidopterans, Dipterans and Coleopterans. Not only the new pests and diseases emerged, the Bt cotton has failed to even prevent bollworm attack for which it has been designed.
RNA interference (RNAi) is a natural process, which cells use to turn down or silence the expression of specific genes. Andrew Fire and Craig Mello figured out that RNAi was triggered by double-stranded RNA.
RNAi has an important role in defending cells against foreign nucleotide sequences. The enzymatic components of RNAi are dicer and RISC. Dicer is an endonuclease which breaks dsRNA into small interfering RNA (siRNA) which subsequently target homologous mRNAs for destruction.
RISC is a protein complex which distinguishes between the two siRNA strands as either sense or antisense. Meloidegyne incognitia is a nematode which infects the roots of tobacco plants.
The techniques of RNAi are used in the field of agriculture, biotechnology, functional genomics, etc. Gene silencing is the process of partial or complete inactivation of genes and it occurs at transcriptional or post-transcriptional level.
The recombinant DNA technological processes have made immense impact in the area of healthcare by enabling mass production of safe and more effective therapeutic drugs for e.g. genetically engineered insulin.
Gene therapy is a collection of methods that allows correction of a gene defect that has been diagnosed in a child/embryo borne with heredity disease. . It is done by replacing a defective mutant allele with a functional. The first clinical gene therapy was given in 1990 to a 4-year old girl with adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficiency
Recombinant DNA technology, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Enzyme Linked Immuno-sorbent Assay (ELISA) are some of the techniques that serve the purpose of early diagnosis of disease.
Transgenic animals are those organisms whose genome has been deliberately modified for human welfare. Transgenic animals are used in studies related to normal physiology and development, study of diseases, biological products, vaccine safety and chemical safety testing.
Some ethical issues are also related to transgenic animals.
Bio-piracy is the use of bio-resources by companies and organisation without proper authorisation and permission for the same.
Basmati rice, neem oil and use of turmeric in wound healing are some of the example of Indian bio-resources patented by USA.