Biotechnology is a unification of biology and technology. It may be defined as the regulated use of biology for the development of new products that are of great use to people. In simple words, it is the use of any biological process or organism to develop a new method or product.
The earliest forms of biotechnology were seen in agriculture thousands of years before when farmers unwittingly grew stronger and better crops in their lands by experimenting with the plants and soil. The fermentation of beer, wine, yogurt, cheese et cetera, are also processes known to humans for thousands of years, way before the term biotechnology was coined.
In recent centuries the inventions of vaccination, antibiotics such as penicillins, recombinant DNA, genetically engineered plants such as Bt corn, Human insulin, et cetera have paved the way for the official field of biotechnology. The supreme court ruling that genetically engineered microorganisms can be patented in the Diamond v. Chakrabarty case on June 16, 1980, made the field of biotechnology a suitable investment for many research companies. This went on to make biotechnology a popular research field and many microbes have been patented since. To more about the history of biotechnology click Here
Various Branches of Biotechnology
Biotechnology is a very vast field with numerous fields. Below are the few prominent branches of Biotechnology:
- Bioinformatics: Bioinformatics is the use of computational techniques for biological purposes such as for drug development or to study genomics. It helps to understand complex structures of proteins and DNA better.
- Marine Biotechnology: Marine Biotechnology, also known as blue biotechnology is related to the study of aquatic aminal and their habitat. It mostly involves the development of innovative techniques to protect the marine environment.
- Plant Biotechnology: Plant biotechnology, also known as green biotechnology is possibly the oldest form of biotechnology.In which innovative techniques such as plant tissue culture or recombinant DNA technology are used to produce a better yield of crops. Genetically engineered crops such as Bt Corn and Bt cotton are the best examples of plant biotechnology.
- Animal Biotechnology: Aminal biotechnology has been around for thousands of years for example when horses were crossbred with donkeys to get stronger mules. Today modern animal biotechnology is based on genetic engineering and relies on methods such as transgenics and gene splicing. Animal cloning (e.g., the ewe dolly) is also a successful endeavor of animal biotechnology.
- Medical Biotechnology: Medical biotechnology also called red biotechnology mainly concerns with the study on developing new medicines and antibiotics. It involves much research on genetics and how to manipulate them to treat a genetic illness.
- Food Biotechnology: This is another branch of biotechnology which has been around for thousands of years. People have known to make cheese and alcohols for millenniums now. Food biotechnology mainly involves study on food processes such as fermentation, alcohol production, quality control, food safety, and packaging et cetera.
- Industrial Biotechnology: The primary goal of Industrial biotechnology is to develop efficient industrial techniques and methods that would reduce resource consumption and provide a better alternative. Bioleaching used to extract metals that are not suitable for smelting from ores is an example of it.
- Environmental Biotechnology: This branch of biotechnology involves the study and innovation of methods to protect the environment. Bioremediation is a method in which the toxic waste is converted back to its non-toxic form and is an example of environmental biotechnology.
Biotechnology is a field with a lot of future potentials. All the research involved in this field continues to help develop new and useful processes for healthcare, food industry, agriculture industry, and also the environment. It is a field that pushes the threshold of nature for the betterment of humanity.