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Bioremediation and Biodegradation

Bioremediation and Biodegradation

  • Biotechnology is being used to engineer and adapt organisms especially microorganisms in an effort to find sustainable ways to clean up contaminated environments.
  • The elimination of a wide range of pollutants and wastes from the environment is an absolute requirement to promote a sustainable development of our society with low environmental impact.
  • Biological processes play a major role in the removal of contaminants and biotechnology is taking advantage of the astonishing catabolic versatility of microorganisms to degrade/convert such compounds.
  • Marine environments are especially vulnerable since oil spills of coastal regions and the open sea are poorly containable and mitigation is difficult. In addition to pollution through human activities, millions of tons of petroleum enter the marine environment every year from natural seepages.
  • Despite its toxicity, a considerable fraction of petroleum oil entering marine systems is eliminated by the hydrocarbon-degrading activities of microbial communities, in particular by a remarkable recently discovered group of specialists, the so-called hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria (HCCB).

Animal Biotechnology

  • In animals, biotechnology techniques are being used to improve genetics and for pharmaceutical or industrial applications. Molecular biology techniques can help drive breeding programs by directing selection of superior animals.                                        Bioremediation and Biodegradation
  • Animal cloning, through somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), allows for genetic replication of selected animals. Genetic engineering, using recombinant DNA, alters the genetic makeup of the animal for selected purposes, including producing therapeutic proteins in cows and goats.

Industrial Biotechnology

  • Industrial biotechnology applies the techniques of modern molecular biology to improve the efficiency and reduce the environmental impacts of industrial processes like textile, paper and pulp, and chemical manufacturing.
  • For example, industrial biotechnology companies develop biocatalysts, such as enzymes, to synthesize chemicals. Enzymes are proteins produced by all organisms. Using biotechnology, the desired enzyme can be manufactured in commercial quantities.
  • Commodity chemicals (e.g., polymer-grade acrylamide) and specialty chemicals can be produced using biotech applications. Traditional chemical synthesis involves large amounts of energy and often-undesirable products, such as HCI.                                    Bioremediation and Biodegradation
  • Using biocatalysts, the same chemicals can be produced more economically and more environmentally friendly. An example would be the substitution of protease in detergents for other cleaning compounds. Detergent proteases, which remove protein impurities, are essential components of modern detergents.
  • They are used to break down protein, starch, and fatty acids present on items being washed. Protease production results in a biomass that in turn yields a useful byproduct – an organic fertilizer. Biotechnology is also used in the textile industry for the finishing of fabrics and garments.
  • Biotechnology also produces biotech-derived cotton that is warmer, stronger, has improved dye uptake and retention, enhanced absorbency, and wrinkle- and shrink-resistance.




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