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Chapter 4 – Biotechnology and its Applications

The following Topics and Sub-Topics are covered in this chapter and are available on MSVgo:

Introduction

Biotechnology refers to the modification of living organisms or biological systems to develop products. An example of natural biotechnology is the use of yeast in the production of bread. Here yeast is used in its natural form or is bred in order to make bread. However, modern biotechnology involves 1) a more complex and advanced modification of living organisms and biological systems, 2) in order to create products 3) at an industrial scale. Biotechnology is a production-oriented enterprise, the key purpose of which is to improve the quality of life of human beings. Application of Biotechnology is seen in areas like agriculture, aquaculture, medicine, production of antibiotics, environment-related issues, creation of transgenic animals, and creation of industrial products. In this section, you will read about Biotechnology and its Applications in the fields of agriculture, medicine, the production of transgenic animals and aquaculture.

The primary purpose of the application of biotechnology in agriculture is to increase agricultural yield. Agro-chemical based agriculture increases yield with the help of pesticides and fertilizers. However, in developing countries, chemical fertilizers and pesticides are unaffordable for most farmers, and these chemicals also harm the environment. 

If you have paid attention to what you eat, you will notice that with time newer varieties of fruits and vegetables appear in the market. For instance, “disco” papayas emerged in the market some years ago; they are genetically-modified papayas and were more expensive than the regular native variety. Now they’re available in abundance, round the year and are cheaper than native papayas. So the alternative to chemical-based agriculture is the use of genetically modified crop-based agriculture. The benefits of genetically-modified crops are: 

  1. The nutritional value of food can be enhanced. 
  2. The crops are more tolerant of extreme temperatures, high salinity, excessive or insufficient water, ultraviolet radiation and heavy metals. 
  3. They use ground minerals more effectively. 
  4. They reduce the dependence on chemicals.  
  5. Plants modified using biotechnology can be used as an alternative raw material in industries. 
  6. Through genetic modification, crop varieties have been generated that are resistant to pests, reducing the dependence on pesticides; hence they serve as bio-fertilizer. One example of the use of this technology is the production of the Bt toxin gene by a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt for short). This Bt toxin is introduced in crops to generate in them resistance to pests. Crops produced using this technology are called Bt Cotton, Bt Corn, etc.

One of the most profitable applications of biotechnology is in the field of medicine. In the medical field, biotechnology is used in the development of medicines and therapies. The technology that has had a tremendous impact on the field is recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology. As the name suggests, recombinant DNA technology combines molecules of DNA from two distinct species to generate new genetic combinations used in the production of better and safer drugs. DNA can be used from any living organism. Human DNA can be combined with plant DNA, or bacterial DNA can be combined with dog DNA. 

The first application of rDNA technology that went into industrial production and wide clinical use was genetically manufactured insulin. Here bacteria are modified genetically to produce human insulin. Type 1 diabetics cannot produce insulin and have to be injected with insulin from pigs for their entire lives. Insulin from pigs, however, is not as effective as insulin from humans.

Additionally, to address the problem of manufacturing insulin for the millions of diabetics in the world, the gene that makes insulin from a person’s DNA was taken and placed into a bacteria. Assuming the gene as its own, the bacteria manufacture the insulin as if it is one of its proteins. This bacteria will reproduce millions of times, passing on the insulin gene each time. Since it reproduces asexually, billions of bacteria will be available for producing human insulin. 

Another area in which the application of biotechnology is seen is gene therapy. Gene therapy addresses the problem of correcting hereditary disease. Gene therapy involves injecting a normal gene into the embryo to take over the function of the defective gene or to balance the effect of the non-performing gene. 

Application of biotechnology is especially useful in the early detection of disease. rDNA technology, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Enzyme Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay (ELISA) are the techniques used for early detection. PCR, for instance, amplifies the minutest of DNA in the blood by making innumerable copies, thereby providing enough material for analysis. This method can detect a disease in its early stages before the pathogens have had the chance to multiply and take over the body.

Transgenic animals are those animals whose genetic make-up has been modified. This is done by injecting a foreign gene into their genome or by modifying their genetic material. This is done using rDNA technology. Mice, rabbits, sheep, pigs, cows and pigs have been turned into transgenic animals, the most common being mice. The various purposes for doing this are: 1) studying the role of the genes in the functioning of normal physiological processes and the development of the body 2) studying the contribution of genes in the development of disease 3) safe and quick testing of vaccines 4) creation of biological products 5) Toxicity testing.

The farming of aquatic life is called aquaculture. All phases of farming–growth, nutrition, health and reproduction–can be supported and enhanced using biotechnology..  

The increase in the demand for aquatic creatures and depletion of marine habitats has propelled the use of biotechnology to create gene combinations to increase the desired fish population and better their quality.

The first question that perhaps comes to or should come to the mind of any individual introduced to the idea of biotechnology is: what right do we have to modify the genetic structure of living organisms? The second question that is likely to raise its head is: is it safe to use this technology? To address these issues in India, the GEAC, or the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has been set up.

In a high stakes industry, there are bound to be malpractices. Biopiracy is the unethical use of bio-resources by high stakes organizations; that is, it refers to the use of resources without the permission of countries or people who own them and without making due payment for their use.

We have offered here a brief overview of Biotechnology and its Applications. From addressing the food problem of the world to providing cures for congenital defects, to studying the human body, to cleaning up the environment, biotechnology serves the human race in innumerable ways. The ethics of biotechnology and the malpractices it encourages and will continue to encourage are, however, ever-looming dark clouds that hover over the field and that demand our attention. 

For a better understanding of the subject and supplementary material, refer to MSVgo: CBSE, ICSE Class 6-12 Video Learning App–a video library that explains concepts through visuals and animation or visit www.MSVgo.com! for more details!

High School Physics

  • Alternating Current
  • Atoms
  • Communication Systems
  • Current Electricity
  • Dual nature of Radiation and Matter
  • Electric Charges and Fields
  • Electricity
  • Electromagnetic Induction
  • Electromagnetic Waves
  • Electron Beams and Radioactivity
  • Electrons and Photons
  • Electrostatic Potential and Capacitance
  • Fluid Pressure
  • Force and Acceleration
  • Force And Laws Of Motion
  • Gravitation
  • Internal Energy
  • Kinetic Theory
  • Law of motion
  • Light – Reflection And Refraction
  • Magnetic Effects Of Electric Current
  • Magnetism and Matter
  • Management Of Natural Resources
  • Mechanical properties of Fluids
  • Mechanical properties of Solids
  • Motion
  • Motion in a plane
  • Motion in a straight line
  • Moving Charges and Magnetism
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Nuclei
  • Oscillations
  • Our Environment
  • Paths of Heat
  • Physical world
  • Ray optics and optical instruments
  • Semiconductor Devices
  • Semiconductor Electronics: Materials, Devices and Simple Circuits
  • Simple Machines
  • Sound
  • Sources Of Energy
  • Specific and Latent Heats
  • Spherical Mirrors
  • Static Electricity
  • Systems of Particles and Rotational motion
  • Thermal properties of matter
  • Thermodynamics
  • Units and Measurement
  • Vectors, Scalar Quantities and Elementary Calculus
  • Wave Optics
  • Waves
  • Work, Power and Energy

High School Chemistry

  • Acids, Bases and Salts
  • Alcohols, Phenols and Ethers
  • Aldehydes, Ketones and Carboxylic Acids
  • Aliphatic and Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Alkyl and Aryl Halides
  • Amines
  • Analytical Chemistry 
  • Atomic Structure
  • Atoms And Molecules
  • Basic concepts of Chemistry
  • Biomolecules
  • Carbon And Its Compounds
  • Carboxylic acids and Acid Derivatives
  • Chemical Bonding and Molecular Structures
  • Chemical Energetics
  • Chemical Equilibria
  • Chemical Kinetics
  • Chemical Reactions And Equations
  • Chemical Reactions and Their Mechanisms
  • Chemistry in Everyday Life
  • Chemistry of p-Block elements
  • Chemistry of Transition and Inner Transition
  • Classification of Elements
  • Coordination Compounds
  • Cyanide, Isocyanide, Nitro compounds and Amines
  • Electrochemistry
  • Electrolysis
  • Elements, Compounds and Mixtures
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Equilibrium
  • Ethers and Carbonyl compounds
  • Haloalkanes and Haloarenes
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Hydrogen
  • Ideal solutions
  • Introduction to Organic Chemistry
  • Ionic equilibria
  • Matter
  • Matter Around Us
  • Matter In Our Surroundings
  • Metallurgy
  • Metals And Non-Metals
  • Mole Concept and Stoichiometry
  • Natural Resources
  • Organic Chemistry – Basic Principles
  • Periodic Classification of Elements
  • Physical and Chemical Changes
  • Physical and Chemical Properties of Water
  • Polymers
  • Preparation, Properties and Uses of Compounds
  • Principles and Processes of Isolation of Elements
  • Redox Reactions
  • Relative Molecular Mass and Mole
  • States of Matter
  • Structure Of The Atom
  • Study of Compounds
  • Study of Gas Laws
  • Study of Representative Elements
  • Surface Chemistry
  • The d-block and f-block elements
  • The Gaseous State
  • The p-Block Elements
  • The Periodic Table
  • The s-Block Elements
  • The Solid State
  • Thermodynamics

High School Biology

  • Absorption and Movement of Water in Plants
  • Adolescent Issues
  • Anatomy of Flowering Plants
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Bacteria and Fungi-Friends and Foe
  • Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Biofertilizers
  • Biological Classification
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomolecules
  • Biotechnology and its Applications
  • Biotic Community
  • Body Fluids and Circulation
  • Breathing and Exchange of Gases
  • Cell – Unit of Life
  • Cell Cycle and Cell Division
  • Cell Division and Structure of Chromosomes
  • Cell Reproduction
  • Cellular Respiration
  • Chemical Coordination and Integration
  • Circulation
  • Control And Coordination
  • Crop Improvement
  • Digestion and Absorption
  • Diversity In Living Organisms
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Issues
  • Excretory Products and their Elimination
  • Flowering Plants
  • Genes and Chromosomes
  • Health and Diseases
  • Health and Its Significance
  • Heredity And Evolution
  • Heredity and Variation
  • How Do Organisms Reproduce?
  • Human Diseases
  • Human Eye And Colourful World
  • Human Health and Disease
  • Human Population
  • Human Reproduction
  • Hygiene
  • Improvement In Food Resources
  • Integumentary System- Skin
  • Kingdom Fungi
  • Kingdom Monera
  • Kingdom Protista
  • Life Processes
  • Locomotion and Movement
  • Microbes in Human Welfare
  • Mineral Nutrition
  • Molecular Basis of Inheritance
  • Morphology of Flowering Plants
  • Neural Control And Coordination
  • Nutrition in Human Beings
  • Organism and Population
  • Photosynthesis
  • Photosynthesis in Higher Plants
  • Plant Growth and Development
  • Plant Kingdom
  • Pollination and Fertilization
  • Pollution; Sources and its effects
  • Principles of Inheritance and Variation
  • Reproduction and Development in Angiosperms
  • Reproduction in Organisms
  • Reproductive Health
  • Respiration in Human Beings
  • Respiration in Plants
  • Respiratory System
  • Sexual Reproduction in Flowering Plants
  • Strategies for Enhancement in Food Production
  • Structural Organisation in Animals
  • Structural Organisation of the Cell
  • The Endocrine System
  • The Fundamental Unit Of Life
  • The Living World
  • The Nervous System and Sense Organs
  • Tissues
  • Transpiration
  • Transport in Plants

High School Math

  • Algebra – Arithmatic Progressions
  • Algebra – Complex Numbers and Quadratic Equations
  • Algebra – Linear Inequalities
  • Algebra – Pair of Linear Equations in Two Variables
  • Algebra – Polynomials
  • Algebra – Principle of Mathematical Induction
  • Algebra – Quadratic Equations
  • Binomial Theorem
  • Calculus – Applications of Derivatives
  • Calculus – Applications of the Integrals
  • Calculus – Continuity and Differentiability
  • Calculus – Differential Equations
  • Calculus – Integrals
  • Geometry – Area
  • Geometry – Circles
  • Geometry – Conic Sections
  • Geometry – Constructions
  • Geometry – Introduction to Euclid’s Geometry
  • Geometry – Three-dimensional Geometry
  • Geometry – Lines and Angles
  • Geometry – Quadrilaterals
  • Geometry – Straight Lines
  • Geometry – Triangles
  • Linear Programming
  • Matrices and Determinants
  • Mensuration – Areas
  • Mensuration – Surface Areas and Volumes
  • Number Systems
  • Number Systems – Real Numbers
  • Permutations and Combinations
  • Probability
  • Sequence and Series
  • Sets and Functions
  • Statistics 
  • Trignometry – Height and Distance
  • Trignometry – Identities
  • Trignometry – Introduction

Middle School Science

  • Acids, Bases And Salts
  • Air and Its Constituents
  • Basic Biology
  • Body Movements
  • Carbon and Its Compounds
  • Cell – Structure And Functions
  • Changes Around Us
  • Chemical Effects Of Electric Current
  • Chemistry in Your Life
  • Coal And Petroleum
  • Combustion And Flame
  • Components Of Food
  • Conservation Of Plants And Animals
  • Crop Production And Management
  • Electric Current And Its Effects
  • Electricity And Circuits
  • Elements and Compounds
  • Fibre To Fabric
  • Food production and management
  • Force And Pressure
  • Forests: Our Lifeline
  • Friction
  • Fun With Magnets
  • Garbage In, Garbage Out
  • Getting To Know Plants
  • Health and Hygiene
  • Heat
  • Hydrogen
  • Life Processes: Nutrition in Animals and Plants
  • Light, Shadows And Reflections
  • Materials: Metals And Non-Metals
  • Matter and Its States
  • Metals and Non-metals
  • Micro Organisms: Friend And Foe
  • Motion And Measurement Of Distances
  • Motion And Time
  • Nutrition In Animals
  • Nutrition In Plants
  • Organization in Living Things
  • Our Environment
  • Physical And Chemical Changes
  • Pollution and conservation
  • Pollution Of Air And Water
  • Reaching The Age Of Adolescence
  • Reproduction In Animals
  • Reproduction In Plants
  • Respiration In Organisms
  • Rocks and Minerals
  • Separation Of Substances
  • Simple Machines
  • Soil
  • Some Natural Phenomena
  • Sorting Materials Into Groups
  • Sound
  • Stars And The Solar System
  • Structure of Atom
  • Synthetic Fibers And Plastics
  • The Living Organisms And Their Surroundings
  • Transfer of Heat
  • Transformation of Substances
  • Transportation In Animals And Plants
  • Universe
  • Waste-water Story
  • Water: A Precious Resource
  • Weather, Climate And Adaptations Of Animals To Climate
  • Winds, Storms And Cyclones

Middle School Math

  • Addition
  • Area and Its Boundary
  • Boxes and Sketches
  • Data Handling
  • Fun With Numbers
  • Heavy and Light
  • How Many
  • Long And Short
  • Mapping
  • Measurement
  • Money
  • Multiplication and Factors
  • Multiply and Divide
  • Numbers
  • Parts and Wholes
  • Pattern Recognition
  • Patterns
  • Play With Patterns
  • Rupees And Paise
  • Shapes And Angles
  • Shapes And Designs
  • Shapes and Space
  • Similarity
  • Smart Charts
  • Squares
  • Subtraction
  • Tables And Shares
  • Tenths and Hundredths
  • Time
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