Welcome to the World of


Oct 22, 2013 (4 years and 8 months ago)


Welcome to the World of

An introduction into the business of
biotechnology in Georgia for high
school students

What is Biotechnology?

Let’s break it down:


alive or living


the application of science to
achieve industrial or commercial objectives

So basically, we’re talking about using
living materials for a commercial or
industrial purpose

Taking living cells and putting them to work
for us!!!

A Definition That is a Little
More Fun…

Origins of Biotechnology

Although it seems like a new thing,
biotechnology has actually been around a

Domesticated plants and animals are the
result of selective breeding (have you ever
seen a wild corn plant, not something you’d
want to eat)

Using yeast to make bread rise

Using bacteria or yeast to ferment grapes
into wine

So Why Should I Care?

Biotechnology aspects all aspects of your
everyday life, including: agriculture and food
safety, healthcare, law enforcement and
environmental issues

Although there are many great career paths
involving biotechnology that you may consider,
possibly even more importantly, you will soon
be voters

You’ll make decisions on the ethics involving
legalizing certain types of research

You might be on a jury where biotechnology plays a
key part in the evidence presented

The Biotechnology Toolbox

Today, biotechnology is used in three
main ways:

Directly using cells

Placing yeast into a bioreactor to ferment grapes

Using the proteins/enzymes made by cells

Isolating antibiotics from bacteria for use in
human medicine

Using the genetic material inside of cell

DNA fingerprinting

Just Some of the Latest Advances
in the World of Biotechnology


DNA fingerprinting

Genetically modified bacteria to
synthesize products

Genetically modified foods


Creating a genetically identical copy of
something (ex. a DNA strand, a cell, an organ
or an entire organism)

Single cells and DNA are fairly easy to clone
and so this has been done for a comparatively
long amount of time

Cloning entire organisms becomes increasingly
more difficult the more complex the organism
is (ex. Humans are harder to clone than worms)
and so it is very recent and for some species has
not been perfected yet

How Cloning Works

DNA is extracted from an adult cell

An egg for this same species has it’s DNA

The empty egg is filled with the adult DNA

The egg is implanted into a surrogate mother

The baby born from this egg is genetically
identical to the adult from which it was cloned

But, it will not share any characteristics that aren’t

It will not be the same age as the animal it was
cloned from (it’ll be a baby)

Why Clone?

To create identical cells for research

To maintain a genetically desirable
species of plant or animal

To create a missing organ or tissue for
treatment of human diseases

To save endangered or extinct species

Some Products of Cloning

DNA Fingerprinting

Identifying the pattern of certain sequences in parts
of a person’s DNA to determine if two samples
come from the same person, related persons or two,
related individuals

Only parts of the DNA sequence are used because
the whole genome is too long to sequence repeatedly

Everyone has a unique sequence of DNA (even
identical twins, although their genomes would be
very close to identical)

In order to be an effective tool, we need to get DNA
from many people to determine how often certain
patterns show up in the population

How DNA Fingerprinting

The DNA is isolated from a cell sample and
many copies are made with a process called

The DNA is cut into pieces using restriction
enzymes (they cut only at specific sequences)

The DNA is run on a gel electrophoresis to
separate the pieces (separated based on size)

Probes are used to find certain DNA sequences
(usually VNTR sequences)

Comparisons of these pieces of DNA are made
to determine identity or relationships

What Does a DNA Fingerprint
Look Like?

What can DNA Fingerprints
be used for?

Paternity/maternity tests

To determine if a suspect was at a crime

To identify a murder victim

To identify a soldier killed in the line of

To determine identity

Modified Bacteria

Inserting new genes into a bacteria to
trick it into making a product for us

Although each bacteria usually doesn’t
make much product, millions of bacteria
can be grown in bioreactors at the same
time, and the product harvested from all
of them at once

How are Genetically
Bacteria Created?

A piece of DNA containing the gene for the
desired product is cut with restriction enzymes

A plasmid (circular bacterial DNA) is cut with
the same restriction enzyme

The piece and the plasmid are ligated (fused

The plasmid is transformed into the bacteria

The plasmid either stays in whole or the gene
crosses over into the bacteria’s DNA

What Does the Process of Bacterial
Transformation Look Like?

Some Products Now
Synthesized by Bacteria

Biodiesel fuel

Chemicals to block an HIV infection


Human insulin for diabetics


Modified Foods

Livestock or produce that has received
new genes to make the product healthier,
resistant to pest or more nutritious

The process is similar to that used to
create genetically
modified bacteria, but
the genes are being inserted into multi
celled organism instead

How GMO are made

The process varies slightly between each
species, particularly between plants and
animals, however some aspects are the same

Changes are made to the organism’s DNA by
inserting a useful gene into the egg cell

This changed egg is then implanted into a
mother and the baby born hopefully has the
desired trait

Some Genetically Modified
Organisms (GMO)

Why make GMOs?

To give plants resistance to certain pests
without the use of pesticides

To make plants drought resistant

To make cows that produce more milk

To make vegetables that can undergo long
transport without over

To make chickens that contain extra vitamins
that may be missing from our diets

The Ethics of Biotechnology

Despite all the exciting things that
biotechnology can do or will do in the near
future, there are things to consider:

Would it be ethical to clone a human? Why or why

Should your insurance company be allowed to have
access to your DNA profile if it detected some

How can the bacteria in bioreactors be disposed of
once they are no longer useful?

What happens to the natural balance when GMO are
sent out to compete with natural plants in the


We are at the cusp of an exciting time in the
world of biology

We are capable to manipulating living cells in ways
that would have been unimaginable even 20 years

With this new technology comes many new jobs and
benefits to mankind

With this new technology comes the need to think
through the ethical issues that arise and to wisely
weigh the benefits against the drawbacks to make
informed decisions as to what research should be
encourage and what should not