Use of Bacteria in Biotechnology

Biotechnology is a field that deals with the use of living organisms or biological systems to create products or processes that eventually assist humans (Abrique, par.1). Bacteria are used in many ways in biotechnology.  Biotechnology makes use of living organisms to produce commodities and services. It is a multifaceted field that involves both engineering and science. Farmers have used biotechniques for example in breeding, pollenization and cross-hybridization to develop animal and plant species for centuries. Dairy products manufacturers and brewers have also used biotechnology in the production of alcohol and milk products. However, since the discovery of DNA, the scope and complexity of biotechnology has grown unbelievably (Abrique, par. 2).

The Working Together of Science and Engineering
Biotechnology can be broken down into four sub-disciplines Red biotechnology, WhiteGrey Biotechnology, Green Biotechnology and Blue Biotechnology. Red biotechnology deals with the utilization of living organisms for development of medical processes. This may include the use of organisms to generate new drugs, employing stem cells to rejuvenate damaged tissues and perhaps re-grow organs, creation of insulin, gene treatment to engineer genetic healing and creation of monoclonal antibody-based medicines (Abrique, par. 5-6). WhiteGrey biotechnology involves industrialized procedures. Examples of white biotechnology consist of manufacture of new chemicals, invention of new fuels for example vehicles, designer organisms to manufacture useful chemicals, using bacteria to uncontaminated oil and gasoline spills (Abrique, par. 7-8).

Green biotechnology deals with the use of environmentally friendly options as a substitute to conventional animal breeding, horticulture and industrial agriculture processes. These include usage of bacteria to assist in the growing of plants, creation of pest-resistant grains. Another use is manufacturing of plants to express pesticides, hasten development of disease-resistant animals, use of bacteria to guarantee better crop yields as an alternative to pesticides and herbicides, manufacture of better plants by stimulating the quick growth of their root systems and use of plants to take away heavy metals for example silver, lead or nickel which can then be mined or from the plants (Prasertsan, Jaturapornpipat and Siripatana 11). Others include gene manipulation to permit plant strains to resist frost, then from soil bacteria use of genes to genetically modify plants to promote resilience to fungal pathogens, and finally use of bacteria to make plants to grow quicker, ripen earlier and resist frost (Abrique, Par. 9-10).

Blue biotechnology on the other hand makes the use of and manipulation of aquatic and marine products. These include use of marine products and plants to produce new drugs, use of genes from marine organisms to manufacture plants that can resist environmental conditions (Abrique, par. 11-12).

Bacteria in biotechnology
The major role of bacteria in biotechnology is to create proteins and peptides that scientists would have otherwise had a hard time producing. An example is hemophiliacs who when they get cut, cannot stop bleeding. In order to get the compound that they lack in their blood the scientists used to collect massive amounts of blood plasma and from it extract the little amounts of protein. Masses of plasma would be needed for only a single shot of medicine. Enormous plants were needed and the plasma used was evidently not available in hospitals that need it a lot to treat people. Then there was always the risk of the medicine getting impure by using plasma from ailing people (Hoogewerf, Jung and Madigan 359-364). This was a costly, ineffective and potentially hazardous way of producing the medicine. Later however, the genetically modified bacteria started being grown in tanks to generate human protein which is then extracted from the tank. The medicine can then be produced safely and economically in huge amounts. This revolution in the production is now feasible for a lot of medicines. Another vital case in point of this change is insulin for people suffering from diabetes. For this type of application it is not so hazardous that bacteria have to be genetically modified, as they do not leave the tanks they are being created in (Stedingk, par. 1).

Another important function is to make use of some of the bacterias special characteristics. If they are genetically modified here, then one needs to have to be cautious that they do not multiply. Although, many times they do not have to be modified, by just using them in a fresh environment, they can help a lot. For instance, oil-eating bacteria that chew on oil spills, bacteria that isolate huge metals from sewers, bacteria that are spread on seeds to protect the emerging plant from fungus destruction, or bacteria supplemented to food to provide them with special qualities that give the name smart food (Stedingk, par 2).

Thermofilus aquaticus is a bacterium that lives in extremely hot water. For it to do this it requires to obviously deal with all its life processes at extremely high temperatures. By making use of the enzyme it contains for duplicating DNA, a procedure that is now made use of in almost all biochemical labs worldwide, PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) was created. This is what helps the police to get from a small drop of blood, the information they need to identify, or to look at the genes from a mammoth which is long-gone. In 1993, the Nobel Prize was awarded to the inventors for their efforts (Stedingk, par. 3).

Treating latex rubber sheet wastewater using anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria
The bacteria known as anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria, particularly purple non-sulphur photosynthetic bacteria are extensively distributed in water, soil and wastewater. PNSB are flexible organisms in that they can grow as either photoautotrophs or photoheterotrophs underneath anaerobic-light or microaerobic-light environment). They can also grow anaerobically without light using fermentation and numerous can grow aerobically without light, using respiration (Holt et al, 787).

The purple non-sulphur photosynthetic bacteria can use different substrates as supplies of energy and carbon with ammonium or nitrate or both as a supply of nitrogen and can use sulphide or thiosulphate as an electron contributor under photosynthetic environment. Because of these characteristics, they have abilities for treating a range of sources of wastewater. To add to that, purple non-sulphur photosynthetic bacteria biomass is loaded with protein with good amounts of vitamins, essential amino acids and carotenoids. Thus, single cell protein (SCP) can be a wastewater treatment bi-product and be used as animal feed (Sasikala and Ramana 173).

Rubber sheet manufacturing plants are extensively distributed all through the eastern and southern parts of Thailand. The rubber sheet processing wastewater contains both inorganic and organic matter which comes from the natural rubber latex and from chemicals in use during processing, such as formic acid, ammonia, sodium sulphite and sodium metabisulphite (Veenstra, Al-Nozaily, and Alaerts 143). The plants mostly use oxidation ponds or lagoons for treatment of wastewater. This treatment is an inexpensive operation although it produces hydrogen sulphide, which smells like rotten-egg and is a major system problem. Many researchers have discovered that certain purple non-sulphur photosynthetic bacteria species from the Rhodospirillum, Rhodobacter and Rhodopseudomonas genera can eliminate the hydrogen sulphide odor irritant from the waste stabilization ponds because of their capabilities to oxidize sulphide to sulphate with the use of light while going through photolithoautotrophic growth (Veenstra, Al-Nozaily, and Alaerts 143).

The light red color bloom of purple non-sulphur photosynthetic bacteria occurs sporadically in anaerobic or wastewater oxidation ponds of latex rubber treatment systems and in specific those treating waste matter from the process of rubber sheet manufacture. This means that some purple non-sulphur photosynthetic bacteria have a prospective use in the treatment ofwastewater of latex rubber under suitable conditions (Kantachote and Torpee, par. 3 Ponsano, Lacava, and Pinto 5).

Bacteria, Biotechnology and Bats
Microorganisms play an important role in retaining the fragile ecological equilibrium of the earth. They rejuvenate the soil by salvaging the resources and nutrients of decomposing matter, and a lot of them are necessary for the healthy development of plants. Microorganisms also influence human lives further directly in the production of such things as anti-tumor drugs, antibiotics, detergents and food products (Steele, par. 1).

A spectacular symbiosis exists between bats and these organisms. Bacteria in a mammals intestinal tract assist in the breakdown and absorption of food. These organisms contain enzymes which are able to degrade a huge array of substances. Numerous microbes are frequently excreted together with waste products, and collectively with soil organisms, they comprise the microbial populace of a bat guano droppings (Steele, par. 2). The scenario created is a cavern with a huge population of bats thousands pounds of droppings being deposited yearly. A chemical examination of the guano exposes a substance rich in nitrogen, carbon and vital minerals. A quantity of this falls into little pools inside the cave. When it goes into the water, a nutrient full broth is created, sustaining the development of numerous microorganisms. These in turn are converted into food for small protozoan animals, and jointly they provide nutrients of crustaceans and fish (Steele, par. 3).

A different potential creation from the bats excrement microorganisms is an enzyme known as chitinase, a protein that is able to convert the chitin exoskeleton of crustaceans and insects to simpler sugars. In absence of cellulose, chitin is one of worlds most rich natural resource of complex carbohydrates also known as polysaccharides. By-products from processing crustaceans, for example crabs and shrimp, form a key source of economical raw materials for the enzymatic change of chitin to a much easier fermentable sugar. This in turn, can be used to produce alcohol fuel. An additional prospective use for microorganisms producing chitinase is the biological management of nematode pests and insects (Steele, par. 9).

A small number of people comprehend the impact of products created by microbes in peoples lives. In addition to such commonly known products as bread, wine, beer, yoghurt and cheese, microorganisms are as well used to manufacture a lot of essential enzymes (for instance those used to tenderize meat), vitamins, amino acids, antibiotics, herbicides, pesticides, etc. These products promote such varied areas as medicine, agriculture, textiles, pharmaceuticals, photo-graphics, paper production and food production (Steele, par. 10).

In the preservation efforts, people need to be aware that in something as intricate as an ecosystem, unnoticed actions can have a major responsibility. The guano deposit and subsequent microbes colonization can be as vital to a cave ecosystem as rain and vegetation pollination are to a tropical rain forest. The resulting food chain can play a fundamental role in an ecosystem for caves, since bat guano regularly supplies the main nutrient influx in an environment lacking photosynthesizing plant life. An ounce of guano from bats holds billions of bacteria, and a sole deposit of guano can contain thousands of bacterial types, a good number of scientists do not know anything about (Steele, par. 11).

Bacteria have revolutionized biotechnology in very many ways as discussed above and scientists continue to discover more of its use. It is evident that it will have a major mark in the world of science. Genetically modified bacteria have been utilized in biotechnology in the creation of peptides and proteins. Others are used in functions such as cleaning oil spills, isolating metals from sewers, protecting seeds from fungus damage among others. Whatever else the bacteria will be used for is for the scientists to discover.


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