What’s Biotechnology?

Biotechnology is a field of science that uses living organisms and bimolecular processes to make useful products. Applications span medicine, agriculture, food, energy and the environment.

Biotechnology draws on many specialist sciences such as genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry. In many instances it is also dependent on knowledge from outside biology such as chemical engineering.

Researchers often study biomolecular processes at the molecular level to gain an insight into small molecule structure and function. Protein interactions are widely studied, particularly their folding and refolding mechanisms. A wide range of analytical techniques are used from the established spectroscopic methods of UV-Vis, FTIR, and Circular Dichroism, through to the latest technologies such QCM-D (Quartz crystal microbalance) and Dual Polarisation Interferometry. Nano technology provides a whole new area of research and the possibility of new products. Particle size has a strong influence on the properties of nano materials. Nano particle size and Zeta potential are accurately measured by Dynamic light scattering.

What is new about biotechnology is that researchers can now take a single gene from a plant or animal cell and insert it into a different plant or animal cell. This is called transgenic technology. The gene chosen will contain code for a desired characteristic, for example plants that repel specific insect pests or disease.

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