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Principles of Biotechnology

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Principles of Biotechnology - Lesson Summary

Modern biotechnology arose from two core techniques namely genetic engineering and chemical engineering processes. Genetic engineering is a specialised branch of science which involves the use of several techniques to modify the genetic material; that is DNA and RNA, of an organism. The changed genetic material is then introduced into the host organism to change its phenotype. Biotechnology helps in the maintenance of a sterile environment by enabling the growth of only desired microbes in large quantities during chemical processes while making antibiotics, vaccines and enzymes.
Another genetic engineering technique is recombinant DNA. This is artificial DNA created from two or more sources and incorporated into a single recombinant molecule. A recombinant DNA molecule was constructed for the first time by Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer in 1972. Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer combined their processes and thus the first DNA recombinant molecule was constructed. They inserted the gene that encodes for antibiotic resistance into a native plasmid of Salmonella typhimurium. They isolated the antibiotic resistance gene by cutting out a piece of DNA from a plasmid which was responsible for this genetic trait. This process of cutting out DNA at specific locations was facilitated by restriction enzymes. In this experiment the plasmid DNA acted as vector to transfer the DNA piece attached to it. The antibiotic resistance gene was linked with the plasmid vector with the help of enzyme DNA Ligase, which joined the ends of the cut DNA molecules. Therefore, it led to the creation of a new combination of circular, self-replicating DNA also known as recombinant DNA. On transferring this DNA into E coli, it was observed that multiple copies of the genetic material could be made by using the new host’s DNA polymerase enzyme. Gene transfer is used to provide essential genes to patients in the treatment of some diseases such as type-one diabetes and cystic fibrosis. With constant developments in its techniques, biotechnology is fast evolving and contributing to diverse fields such as healthcare, crop production and waste management. Modern biotechnology arose from two core techniques, namely, genetic engineering and chemical engineering processes. Genetic engineering techniques help isolate and select only desirable genes and avoid the transfer of undesirable genes in target organisms. Some genetic engineering techniques are gene cloning, recombinant DNA and gene transfer. Gene cloning refers to the production of a lineage of cells which contains one type of DNA fragment of interest derived from a population of many  types of DNA fragments. Recombinant DNA is artificial DNA created from two or more sources and incorporated into a single recombinant molecule. Gene transfer involves the insertion of unrelated genetic information in the form of DNA into cells.


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