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Introduction to Biotechnology

Biology (Year 12) - Biotechnology: Processes

Ben Whitten

Biotechnology is defined as the tools and techniques used on organisms or the products of organisms to make a product or solve a problem for human benefit, and it combines the fields of biology and technology; it can be used to improve our lives and the health of our planet. A number of recent advancements in biology have allowed for scientists to change the genetic sequence in living things, enabling them to create new plants and domestic animals with enhanced phenotypes. The modern tools used includes;

  • Restriction enzymes

  • Plasmids

  • Vectors

  • Microarrays

The modern techniques used includes;

  • DNA sequencing

  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

  • Gel electrophoresis

  • Recombinant DNA technology

These are all used to extract, analyse and manipulate DNA for human benefit. Traditional biotechnology involves purposefully selecting organisms with desirable and useful traits for breeding and cultivation. Organisms who were identified as having more desirable phenotypes were selected for producing offspring with those favourable phenotypes (just like artificial selection!). Both modern and traditional methods involve purposefully selecting organisms with desirable and useful traits, but in modern biotechnology, results can be achieved very quickly.

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