Biotechnology is a science driven industry sector that uses living organisms and molecular biology to produce improved and altered plants, animals and micro organisms. Biotechnology involves understanding how living organisms function at the molecular level, so it combines a number of disciplines including biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, and technology.
Modern biotechnology continues to make significant contribution in improvement of crop insect resistance, enhances crop herbicide tolerance and facilitates the use of more environmentally sustainable farming practices.
Biotechnology is helping to feed the world by:
- Generating higher crop yield with fewer inputs,
- Lowering volumes of agricultural chemicals required by crops-limiting the run-off of these products into the environment,
- Using biotech crops that need fewer applications of pesticides and that allow farmers to reduce tilling farmland.
- Developing crops with enhanced nutrition profiles that solve vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.
- Producing food free of allergens and toxins such as mycotoxin
- Improving food and crop oil content to help improve cardiovascular health.
Application of Biotechnology
The primary tools used in agriculture biotechnology are mentioned below:
A. Genetic Engineering
It inserts fragments of DNA into chromosomes of cells and then uses tissue culture to regenerate the cells into a whole organism with a different genetic composition from its original cells. This is also known as rDNA technology. It produces transgenic organisms.
B. Tissue Culture
It manipulates cell, anther, pollen grains or other tissues, so that they line for extended period under laboratory conditions or become whole, living growing organisms. Genetically engineered cells may be converted into genetically engineered organisms through tissue culture.
C. Embryo Rescue
It places embryos containing transferred genes into tissue culture to complete their development into whole organisms. Embryo rescue is often used to facilitate “wide crossing” by producing whole plants from embryos that are the result of crossing two plants and would not normally produce offspring.
D. Somatic Hybridisation
It removes the cell walls of cell from different organisms and induces the direct mixing of DNA from the treated cells, which are then regenerated into whole organisms though tissue culture.
E. Marker-aided genetic Analysis
It is the identification and inheritance tracing of previously identified DNA fragments through a series of generations.
It analyses whole genomes of species together with other biological data about the species to understand what DNA confers what traits in the organisms. Similarly, proteomics analyses the proteins in a tissue to identify the gene expression in that tissue to understand the specific function of proteins encoded by particular genes.