• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What is Biotechnology? Discuss the use of genetically modified microbes to make new products.

Extracts from this document...


What is Biotechnology? Discuss the use of genetically modified microbes to make new products. Biotechnology involves using the biological processes of microbes, and of plant and animals, for the benefit of mankind. It has been around for thousands of years, ever since man started manipulating the environment in which he was situated. Essentially it is a method of enhancing an organism, making it more suitable for the job intended, by incorporating desirable traits. For example selective breeding in cattle, in order to produce a higher yield of milk. It is important to note though that the organism doesn't benefit from this modification. The molecular evolution that Biology has witnessed has found its heart in biotechnology. "Blue Skies" research is a thing of the past and advancements in Biology all stem from research grants with the promise of a commercial application at the end of the day. The discovery of the mechanisms behind protein synthesis has lead to a much more precise, predictable and faster method of incorporating desirable traits into organisms. Thus the revolution of genetic engineering came about. This is arguably the future of biotechnology, as it allows traits from different species to be combined, thus pooling nature's resources. As you can see the potential for biotechnology as a tool is huge. It is not only able to provide products such as alcohol in the brewing industry, but services also such as cleaning up oil spills, where the process is more important than the product. ...read more.


This has lead them to search for new methods of extraction. Predictably nature already has the answer. Many minerals of commercial interest are contained within metal sulphides. It just so happens that certain strains of bacteria are able to leach these minerals out of the ore into a form that can easily be extracted. This "bacterial leaching" is becoming increasingly important in the copper industry as it provides a cost effective, pollution free solution to the problem. Currently 25% of all copper worldwide, worth more than $1 billion annually, is produced through bioprocessing. This ranks it as one of the most important applications of biotechnology today. The process of bioleaching is, at first complex, but here is a summary of the method before we delve into the chemistry behind it. Thiobacillus ferooxidans, which is naturally present in certain sulphur-containing materials, gets energy by oxidizing inorganic materials, such as copper sulphide minerals. This process releases acid and an oxidizing solution of ferric ions, which can wash out metals from crude ore. Poor quality copper ore, which is bound up in a sulphide matrix, is dumped outside a mine and treated with sulphuric acid to encourage the growth of T. ferooxidans. As the bacteria chew up the ore, copper is released and collected in solution. The sulphuric acid is recycled. The solubilisation by bacteria of metals from ores proceeds by either "direct leaching" or "indirect leaching." Thiobacillus ferooxidans uses both methods. It is an acidophillic organism (acid loving) and this is due to the environment in which it lives. ...read more.


So the search for a rapidly growing multi-metal-tolerant thermoacidophilic bacteria was on. Scientists at the Saurashtra University in India took up this challenge and began screening. They took samples of soil from hot springs around Rajkot city, the probable location of thermophillic bacteria, and upon analysis discovered 72 strains that were able to oxidise FeS2. This was much greater than anticipated. The performance of each of these strains was measured against differing concentrations of heavy metals. From the above 16 strains were selected, their FeS2 solubilisation ranged from 64% to 78% at temperature and pH ranging from 58oC to 65oC and pH 2 to 3 respectively within 8 to 10 days. Then using a process of natural selection and adaptation, a process that is greatly enhanced by the fast multiplication rate of microbes, 3 strains were refined. The so-called Th-VI-2, Th-V-6 and Th-II-26 were capable to complete the oxidation of FeS within five days with 87.8%, 82.6% and 87% efficiency respectively. These values are much greater than the effectiveness of Thiobacillus ferooxidans, which cannot even operate at these temperatures, heralding an even more cost effective solution to the problems of obtaining copper from low-grade ores and reducing pollution. I think that this really emphasizes a point made earlier that "nature has already found the solution to all mans' problems," and microbes are the organisms that are giving us the most help. ?? ?? ?? ?? Chris Holland Dr Sarah Gurr 12/12/2000 Jesus College - 1 - ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Living Things in their Environment section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

This is a well researched and written report:
1. The sources of information need to be referenced
2. The report needs to have a conclusion
3. The inclusion of calculations and percentages is good

Marked by teacher Luke Smithen 23/07/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Living Things in their Environment essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The effect of antibiotics on the growth of bacteria.

    4 star(s)

    the micrococcus lutes bacteria as there is a zone of inhibition present 30mm, there is a lot fewer growths of bacteria present also the bacteria is mostly present at the top end of the plate and there is rare appearance of bacteria appearing near the centre.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    A2 Biology Coursework -Investigation into the effect of different concentrations of antibiotics on the ...

    4 star(s)

    Once this has been done, wait for the agar to cool down and set in the Petri dish. 8. Then collect the following equipment - Syringes, Petri dishes, bacterial solution, cello tape, ethanol, glass rod. 9. Get a syringe and transfer 1cm3 of bacterial solution to the first Petri dish and replace the lid 10.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Deforestation and its effects

    4 star(s)

    mahogany). Most of the loggers that chop down the trees are required to hold a licence to do so, however, many loggers operate without a permit. Maybe stronger enforced laws on licensing could be a solution that may decrease the rate of deforestation.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    An Investigation into a Woodlice's Preferred Choice of Environment.

    3 star(s)

    - we will measure this using a probe that measures light intensity and note it in the results. > The darkness of the dark region - this will also be tested using the light intensity probe to ensure it is accurate.

  1. The importance uses of micro organisms.

    A different type of microorganism is fungus. They are eukaryotic organisms. They lack chlorophyll and vascular tissue. They can range from a single cell to a body mass of branched 'filamentous hyphae'. There are 100,000 species of fungi. The many varieties include yeasts, moulds, smuts and mushrooms.

  2. What Factors are responsible for the success of Insects?

    crustaceans and snails), were able to become fully terrestrial like the higher mammals (reptiles, mammals and birds). Being small, insects have only a limited amount of material to work with. In this scenario an exoskeleton is much better than an endoskeleton because it is considerably more conservative in its use of material.

  1. This assignment is about planning and designing practical experiment to carry out an investigation ...

    * Leave it in oven for 2-3 days * Then measure the area of no growth of the bacteria Method * A lab-coat was put on before collecting any of the apparatus, to prevent bacteria contamination on clothes. * Windows were closed, in order to prevent any micro-organisms entering through the windows.

  2. Extended Experimental Investigation - Natural Antibiotics

    or other specifications for the bacteria and is composed of polsaccharides, which provide the main structural support. These agar plates have minimal safety risks. Tea Tree Oil has been used by Australian Aborigines well before its antiseptic properties were researched.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work