Sunday, May 12, 2013

Biotechnology and Biodiversity Conservation

By Mohd. Haider

Biotechnological techniques offer wide ranging opportunities for improving the quality and increased productivity of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and medicine. In context of biodiversity same techniques can be applied for conservation of biodiversity

Genes from plants, animals and microorganisms are the strategic raw materials for their identification, conservation and conservation, and also for selective commercial development of new agricultural and industrial products, including medicines.

Biotechnology already assists the conservation of plant and animal genetic resources through:

  • Novel methods for collecting and storing genes (as improved seed and tissue culture)
  • Detection and elimination of diseases in gene bank collections
  • Identification of useful genes
  • Improved techniques for long-term storage 

Biotechnological tools are being employed for conservation of endangered plant species of economic and medicinal importance.Tissue culture techniques have been developed for endangered species. Some major achievements have been made in conservation of environment and biodiversity.  

Modern biotechnology offers new means of improving biodiversity. If properly tested for both risk and benefits to human and the environment, transgenic crops are more likely to increase agricultural biodiversity. In the context, there are two quite different applications of biotechnology or of molecular biology that are relevant. The first is to use biotechnology as a tool for acquiring knowledge, whilst the second is to use biotechnology to directly intervene in plant and animal breeding, in particular to transfer genetic information from one sort of organism to a particular crop or farm animal to make it transgenic. 

In taxonomy molecular markers are used to identify individual strains of organisms or to identify species. This is useful in ex-situ conservation of plants, animals and microorganisms. Biotechnology is useful for following genetic markers in plant and animal breeding, animal or plant varieties are crossed by conventional or sexual means. 

By analyzing a few cells of the newly born calf or the newly sprouted crops, one can predict some of the expected properties of the progeny, by looking at the presence or absence of certain forms of genes. This enables to predict the phonetic property which will only show’s up later in life, for instance certain characteristics of a cow’s milk or the crops expected resistance to infectious diseases.

The availability of genome sequences is a boost to research. The first two complete plant genome sequences determined were those of Arabidopsis and rice. The 120 million base pair of Arabidopsis sequenced by International academic consortium. The 430 million base pair of rice was completed by Syngenta.

As we know all genes consist of DNA, and information present in DNA molecule is read in the same way in all organisms in order to make proteins. With the help of biotechnological tools it is possible to transfer gene from any organism into another organism so that the recipient should produce protein that were only produced in donor.The resulting organisms, called transgenic.
(This article is primarily a guest note written by Mohd. Haider)

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