Early examples of biotechnology include breeding animals and crops and using microorganisms to make cheese, yoghurt, bread, beer, and wine. Cheese and wine, made by fermentation, are early examples of biotechnology.
Biotechnology can be broadly defined as purposefully using or altering living systems, organisms, or parts of organisms to develop products or systems that benefit humankind.
Following Activity Is an Example of Biotechnology:
- Bacteria in the soil secreting an antibiotic to kill competitors
- A microbiologist using the microscope to study bacteria
- Humans use yeast to make beer and wine
- Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the lungs causes tuberculosis
- Public health officials monitoring disease in a community
Earliest examples of biotechnology
The earliest example of biotechnology is the domestication of plants and animals. Domestication began over 10,000 years ago when our ancestors started keeping plants as a reliable source of food. Rice, barley and wheat were among the first domesticated plants.
Wild animals were tamed to provide milk or meat or help with ploughing or guarding the farm. The dog, sheep and goat are thought to be among the first animals that were domesticated.
Synthetic insulin and synthetic growth hormone and diagnostic tests to detect various diseases are just some examples of how biotechnology is impacting medicine. Biotechnology has also proved helpful in refining industrial processes, in environmental cleanup, and in agricultural production.
Biotechnology Examples in Everyday Life
Biofuels are derived from biomass like a plant, animal waste, and algae material. With the increase in fuel prices and depletion of fossil fuels, biofuel production through biotechnology can play a crucial role. Biofuels act as a renewable source of energy and are environmentally friendly as they prevent greenhouse gas emissions. Examples of biofuel are ethanol, biodiesel, and biogas.
2. Dairy Products
Biotechnology has a wide application in dairy, and we owe to biotechlogy for our favorite dairy products like cheese and yogurt. Cheese is formed by lactic acid fermentation of milk. Milk contains water (85%), fat, carbohydrates (lactose), and protein (casein & whey).
Cheese is formed by separating milk into solid curd and liquid whey by acidification of milk or by adding rennet. Certain bacteria like lactobacilli or streptococci families convert milk sugar (lactose) to lactic acid and thus lower the milk pH.
This is called acidification of milk; it kills the harmful bacteria present in the milk. This helps to separate the milk into curd and liquid whey. Rennet is an enzyme that helps in the coagulation of casein protein.
This separates the solid curd and the liquid whey. Liquid whey is then removed, and the curd is then salted and shaped. Rennet is a set of enzymes present in the stomach of ruminant mammals. Chymosin (protease) is the key enzyme, which curdles the casein protein in milk.
3. Bakery Products
Bread is one of the most common foods consumed by human in everyday life. Do you know what makes the bread soft and fluffy? Bread is formed by making dough using flour, water, yeast and sugar. Amylase present in the moist dough breaks down the starch (amylase or amylopectin) present in the flour and releases maltose and sucrose.
Yeast is a type of fungus, which feeds on sugar for energy. Yeast present in the dough contains maltase, which breaks the maltose into glucose through aerobic respiration but soon runs out of oxygen and switches to anaerobic respiration. In anaerobic respiration, it breaks down the sugar and produces CO2 and ethanol.
These CO2 molecules get trapped in the gluten molecules, resulting in the fluffiness of the dough. The dough is then heated, which kills the yeast and evaporates the ethanol. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the yeast species that is used to make bread, it is also known as baker’s yeast.
4. Lactose-free Milk
Lactose is a sugar naturally present in milk. It has smaller units called glucose and galactose. Lactose breaks down in our gut by the enzyme lactase. Some people cannot digest lactose and are lactose intolerant as they lack the enzyme lactase in their body.
In such people, lactose remains as such in the gut and causes symptoms like nausea, bloating, cramps, etc. Thanks to biotechnology lthat has provided us the lactose-free milkin market. Such milk is pre-treated with lactase enzyme.
This causes lactose to break down into glucose and galactose. This enzyme is produced in yeast called Kluyveromyces. Lactose-free milk consist of single unit glucose and galactose, which are more soluble in water than lactose and can be easily absorbed by the gut.
5. Skin Care Products
Biotechnology has played an important role in cosmetology and aesthetic medicines. Botox is one of the prominent examples of biotechnology products in everyday life. Botox is a protein produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.
It paralyzes nerve cells, thereby reducing the wrinkles on face. Hylauronic acid is also a very important ingredient in anti-aging skin care. It is naturally present in the human body. In the laboratory, hyaluronic acid is formed by fermentation of glucose by certain bacteria like Streptococcus zooepidemicus, Escherichia coli, and Bacillus subtilis under right temperature and pH.
6. Detergent Proteases
These are essential components of modern detergents that remove protein impurities and are used for breaking down starch, protein, and fatty acids present on items being washed. The production of protease results in biomass that, in turn, yields a useful byproduct, an organic fertilizer.
7. Genetically Modified (GM) Crops
Biotechnology plays an important role in improving natural fibres like cotton, wool silk, etc. It also helps in improving yield and quality of crops production by making pest or herbicides resistant crops. Genetically modified foods are produced by introducing changes in their DNA by genetic engineering. Some examples of GM food are Bt crops, golden rice, etc.
8. Dye Manufacturing
Shikonin is an example of naturally occurring naphthoquinone. It is found in the dried root of the plant Lithospermum erythrorhizo. They are used as natural colorants in cosmetic, food, and textile industries. Biotechnology also helps in the production of anthraquinone dyes.
These dyes can be extracted from various fungi like trichoderma, aspergillus, and curvularia strains. Examples of anthraquinones biodyes are CI disperse blue 7 and CI acid green 28. Anthraquinones are organic compounds produced by plants and fungi; these dyes are less expensive and very eco friendly.
9. Production of Antibiotics
Antibiotics are one of the very common examples of biotechnology products. They are non-protein molecules produced by microorganism that live in the soil. Antibiotics are produced as secondary metabolites by many species of bacteria such as Streptomyces, Bacillus, and Penicillium (fungi).
Antibiotics play an important role in combating infectious diseases in humans and animals. Antibiotics can be divided into two broad categories based on their mode of action, bactericidal (kills the bacteria) and bacteriostatic (stalls bacterial growth). Penicillin was the first antibiotic discovered by Alexander Fleming.
10. Vaccine Production
Biotechnology has played a significant role in production of vaccines against various deadly diseases. Vaccines are made of dead or inactive pathogens, one of its surface proteins or toxins produced by pathogens.
Vaccination triggers our immune system, resulting in the production of antibodies. These antibodies circulate in blood for a long time as memory antibodies, and if the said pathogen invades in future, the memory antibodies fight against it.