Introduction to Biotechnology


Utilization of biological process, organism or system to produce products that are anticipated to improve human life is termed as biotechnology.
Biotechnology is defined as any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof to make or modify products or processes for specific uses.


In pre-historic time humans used biotechnology to make bread, cheese, beer and wine, to breed strong and productive animals and to increase the yield of crops by selecting seeds from particularly desirable plants. In prehistoric times production of cheese, yogurt and bread from microorganisms and production of various alcoholic drinks were reported which later came to be known as fermentation. (later it was discovered that microorganism for eg-bacteria, yeast etc hydrolyzed sugar etc, when they lacked oxygen and ultimately responsible for fermentation which results in formation of various products). By the 18th century it was observed that fermentation could be classified into 3 different groups-
(1) evolution of gas
(2) formation of alcohol
(3) Production of acid
Scientific evidence for fermentation was described by louis Pasteur. Using a microscope Pasteur showed the presence of lactic yeast which is the agent for making curd and confirmed the presence of L-lactic acid using polarimeter.
In the 19th century the fermentation industry along with agricultural practises of animal husbandry and plant hybridisation led to the shifting of agriculture to industry.
In 1928 Alexander Flamming extracted Penicillin , the first antibiotic from mould. This discovery improved the available treatment with antibiotic having more potential and bring more protective than earlier medicines.

Technology and application of biotechnology:

Biotechnology is now being used in numerous disciplines including bioremediation, energy production and food processing agriculture.
DNA fingerprinting is practised in forensic.
Insulin production and other biotech based medicine are produced through cloning of vectors with gene of interest.
Immuno Acids are frequently utilized in medicine for drug efficiency and also utilized by farmers to fixed toxic level of pesticides, herbicides and other toxins in crops and animal based products.
Biotech also has vast scope in agriculture for the production of plants resistant to insects, plant diseases by using genetic engineering.
Table: Different Fields of Biotechnology
Bio processing
It uses living cells (mostly yeast and bacteria) or the molecular component (mostly enzyme) to manufacture desired products like wine, beer, bread etc.
Cell culture
It is the technology of growing cells outside of living organisms.
Plant cell
a) It is an essential step in creating transgenic crops (GM crop). Plant cell culture is also an important source of compound used as flavours, colours, aromas by food processing industry.
Animal cell culture
b) In this egg and sperm taken from genetically superior cows and bulls are united in the lab and the resulting embryo grown in culture before being implanted in surrogate cow.
Recombinant DNA tech
Recombinant DNA means joining or recombining of two pieces of DNA from two different sources. RDT have various uses like in research application, creation of genetically modified varieties of plants and animals.
Molecular or gene cloning is the process of creating genetically identical DNA molecule. All applications in biotechnology from drug discovery to development to production of transgenic crop depends on gene cloning.
Protein engineering
The technology involves improvement of existing proteins such as enzymes and antibodies and cell receptors and to create proteins not found in nature.
Biosensors are detecting devices that rely on the specific nature of cells and molecules to identify and measure substances at extremely low concentration.
Micro Biology
It is the study of microorganisms and their effect on humans.
It is the study of body’s defence mechanism.
It is the study of the management of biological information with the help of computer technology.

Applications of biotechnology

Health industry
  • Protein industry
  • Protein pharmaceuticals
  • Vaccine and therapeutic agents
  • Diagnostic (Protein or DNA)
  • Gene therapy
Agriculture industry
  • Biopesticides/Biofertilizers
  • Crops tolerant to abiotic and biotic stresses
  • Pharmaceutical production
Chemical industry
  • Fermentation process to produce organic chemicals
  • Production of high purity chemicals
  • Use of energy efficient process
Cleaning industry
  • Use of enzymes as detergents like proteases
Hatile Industry
  • Use of enzymes for fishing of fabrics
  • Use of genetically modified cotton
Pulp and paper industry
  • Improvement of physical properties of fibres
  • Biobleaching of pulp
Living system with industrial application
  1. Prokaryote: Eubacteria (unicellular), Arche (extremophiles)
  2. Mycelial: Actinomycetes (streptomyces, Nocardia)
  3. Eukaryote:

Fungi: Yeast.Mould



Insect Cell

Plant cells or tissues / organs

Animal cells, tissues and organs

Transgenic animal/Plant.
Agronomics Traits from Biotechnology

 Mammalian Cells
Hybridomas, Myelom
Monoclonal antibodies, Recombinant bodies
Chinese Hamster ovary, Baby Hamster kidney cell lines
Interferon  tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), erythropoietin (EPO)
Human kidney 293 Cell Lines
Adenovirus for gene therapy
 human lung fibroblast MRC- 5
Attenuated Hepatitis C virus
Monkey Kidney epithelial cell Vero
Inactivated polio virus
Escherichia Coli
Insulin, human growth hormone, somatostatin, interferon, bovine growth hormone
Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Hepatitis B virus surface antigen (vaccine against Hepatitis B)