Category Archives: pathogens

What is Biotechnology: Types, Examples and Applications

Biotechnology is the use of biological systems found in organisms or the use of the living organisms themselves to make technological advances and adapt those technologies to various different fields. These include applications in various fields from agricultural practice to the medical sector. It does not only include applications in fields that involve the living, but any other field where the information obtained from the biological aspect of an organism can be applied.

Biotechnology is particularly vital when it comes to the development of miniscule and chemical tools as many on the tools biotechnology uses exist at the cellular level. In a bid to understand more regarding biotechnology, here are its types, examples and its applications.


According to Biotechnology Innovation Organization,

“Biotechnology is technology based on biology – biotechnology harnesses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet. We have used the biological processes of microorganisms for more than 6,000 years to make useful food products, such as bread and cheese, and to preserve dairy products.”

Types of Biotechnology

1. Medical Biotechnology

Medical biotechnology is the use of living cells and other cell materials for the purpose of bettering the health of humans. Essentially, it is used for finding cures as well as getting rid of and preventing diseases. The science involved includes the use of these tools for the purpose of research to find different or more efficient ways of maintaining human health, understanding pathogen, and understanding the human cell biology.

Here, the technique is used to produce pharmaceutical drugs as well as other chemicals to combat diseases. It involves the study of bacteria, plant and animal cells to first understand the way they function at a fundamental level.

It heavily involves the study of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) to get to know how to manipulate the genetic makeup of cells to increase the production of beneficial characteristics that humans might find useful such as the production of insulin. The field usually leads to the development of new drugs and treatments, novel to the field.


Vaccines are chemicals that stimulate the body’s immune system to better fight pathogens when they attack the body. They achieve this by inserting attenuated (weakened) versions of the disease into the body’s bloodstream. This causes the body to react as if it was under attack from the non-attenuated version of the disease. The body combats the weakened pathogens and through the process takes note of the cell structure of the pathogens and has some cell ‘remember’ the disease and store away the information within the body.

When the individual becomes exposed to the actual disease, the body of the individual immediately recognizes it and quickly forms a defense against it since it already has some information on it. This translates to quicker healing and less time being symptomatic.

The attenuated disease pathogens are extracted using biotechnological techniques such as growing the antigenic proteins in genetically engineered crops. An example is the development of an anti-lymphoma vaccine using genetically engineered tobacco plants made to exhibit RNA (A similar chemical to DNA) from malignant (actively cancerous) B-cells.

Strides have been made in the development of antibiotics that combat pathogens for humans. Many plants are grown and genetically engineered to produce the antibodies. The method is more cost effective than using cells or extracting these antibodies from animals as the plants can produce these antibodies in larger quantities.

2. Agricultural Biotechnology

Agricultural biotechnology focuses on developing genetically modified plants for the purpose of increasing crop yields or introducing characteristics to those plants that provide them with an advantage growing in regions that place some kind of stress factor on the plant namely weather and pests.

In some of the cases, the practice involves scientists identifying a characteristic, finding the gene that causes it, and then putting that gene within another plant so that it gains that desirable characteristic, making it more durable or having it produce larger yields than it previously did.


Biotechnology has provided techniques for the creation of crops that express anti pest characteristics naturally, making them very resistant to pests, as opposed to having to keep dusting them and spraying them with pesticides. An example of this would be the fungus Bacillus thuringiensis genes being transferred to crops.

The reason for this is that the fungus produces a protein (Bt) which is very effective against pests such as the European corn borer. The Bt protein is the desired characteristic scientist would like the plants to have and for this reason, they identified the gene causing Bt protein to express in the fungus and transferred it to corn. The corn then produces the protein toxin naturally, lowering the cost of production by eliminating the cost of dusting the crop with pesticide.

  • Plant and Animal Breeding

Selective breeding has been a practice humans have engaged in since farming began. The practice involves choosing the animals with the most desirable characteristics to breed with each other so that the resulting offspring would also express these traits. Desirable characteristics included larger animals, animals more resistant to disease and more domicile animals, all geared to making the process of farming as profitable as possible.

This practice has been transferred to the molecular level with the same purpose. Different traits are selected among the animals and once the genetic markers have been pointed out, animals and plants with those traits are selected and bred for those traits to be transferred. A genomic understanding of those traits is what informs the decisions on whether the desired traits will express or get lost as recessive traits which do not express.

This information provides the basis for making informed decisions enhancing the capability of the scientists to predict the expression of those genes. An example is its use in flower production where traits such as color and smell potency are enhanced.

Applications of Biotechnology

1. Nutrient Supplementation

One of the biggest uses of biotechnology is the infusion of nutrients into food in situations such as aid. Therefore, it provides food with heavy nutrients that are necessary in such situations. An example of this application is the production Golden Rice where the rice is infused with beta-carotene. The rice has Vitamin A, which the body can easily synthesise.

2. Abiotic Stress Resistance

There is actually very little land on earth that is arable with some estimates place it at around 20 percent. With an increase in the world’s population, there is a need for the food sources available to be as effective as possible to produce as much food in as little space as possible. There is also need to have the crops grown to be able to make use of the less arable regions of the world.

This means that there is a need to develop crops that can handle these abiotic stresses such as salinity, drought and frost from cold. In Africa and the Middle East, for instance, where the climate can be unforgiving, the practice has played a significant role in the development of crops that can withstand the prevailing harsh climates.

3. Industrial Biotechnology

The industrial applications of biotechnology range from the production of cellular structures to the production of biological elements for numerous uses. Examples include the creation of new materials in the construction industry, and the manufacture of beer and wine, washing detergents, and personal care products.

4. Strength Fibres

One of the materials with the strongest tensile strength is spider webs. Amongst other materials with the same cross sectional width, spider webs can take more tensional force before breaking than even steel. This silk has created a lot of interest with the possible production of materials made from silk including body armour such as bullet proof jackets. Silk is used because it is stronger than Kevlar (the material most commonly used to make body armour).

Biotechnological techniques have been used to pick the genes found in spiders and their infusion in goats to produce the silk proteins in their milk. With this initiative, it make production easier as goats are much easier to handle compared to spiders and the production of silk via milk also help make the processing and handling much easier compared to handling the actual silk strands.

5. Biofuels

One of the biggest applications of biotechnology is in the energy production sector. With fears over the dwindling oil resources in the world and their related environmental impacts, there is a need to protect the globe’s future by finding alternative environmentally friendly fuel sources. Biotechnology is allowing this to happen with advances such as using corn to produce combustible fuel for running car engines. These fuels are good for the environment as they do not produce the greenhouse gases.

6. Healthcare

Biotechnology is applied in the healthcare sector is the development of pharmaceuticals that have proven problematic to produce though other conventional means because of purity concerns.

Image credit: PDP


Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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15 Good Reasons You Need an Air Purifier For Your Home

At home is where most of us find our greatest peace and perhaps the most relaxing. It helps us to wind down a hectic day and even enjoy most of our beloved amenities such as sleep, chat with family and friends, and entertainment. However, as we spend time indoors, we usually overlook air quality. In other words, air quality in our homes is equally important as we enjoy our day to day indoor amenities.

Many times, indoor air contains tiny microbe sized items that can have numerous and diverse effects on our health once inhaled into the body. These range from allergy related problems or flu among other serious health conditions. With modern technological developments, however, it’s been possible to use an air purifier to clean out the air we breathe when indoors. For this reason, you need an air purifier and here, we take a look at 15 good reasons you need to get one for your home.


1. Allergies

For those who suffer from allergies, it is a debilitating condition that is triggered by the slightest exposure to dust or impurities in the air, especially if the allergens are airborne. Allergens such as pollen can cause a lot of discomfort particularly to those who are susceptible.

As such, an air purifier ensures the home environment is free of impurities allowing you a safe haven against the constant barrage of allergies. Air purifiers also help when the allergies are lethal due to hypersensitivity as they act not only to provide comfort, but also to provide protection.

2. Pets

Although keeping your pets clean helps reduce the risk associated with their shedding hair and dead cells, the problem of dander still comes up as it is very hard to maintain constant grooming of pets. Dander can cause reactions from people who have allergies.

It can also slowly build up within the lungs of those who keep the company of pets which can develop into major issues later on. With air purifiers, you’ll be able to sift out all these dangerous particles and ensure long term safety your families while at the same time enjoying the company of your pet(s).

3. You live in an area where construction is ongoing

Areas near construction sites usually have a lot of dust in the air due to the action of construction workers and the tools that constantly disturb the ground. Dust can become a severe irritant by causing problems such as watering of eyes and sinus issues. It can also lead to dust allergies. Besides, the presence of the tiny dust particles in your home from nearby construction sites is associated with problems such as pulmonary complications and emphysema disease.

What’s more, the abrasive nature of sand particles can have physical damage on the lungs and the mucus membranes that line the respiratory system over time. This can lead to complications in breathing and even infections. By having an air purifier, you can get rid of most of these particles as long as maintenance is frequent and the filters are changed regularly.

4. Asthma or other respiratory complications

While air purifiers can help prevent some complications, they can also be used to manage others. Asthma and other respiratory complications tend to be aggravated by microbes and other particulates in the atmosphere. It leads to increased problems for those who are asthmatic and thus, it is imperative to install purifiers.

The reason for this is that air purifiers clean the air in a room thereby allowing those who suffer from asthmatic related complications to manage their conditions better. If you are asthmatic or suffer from other pulmonary complications, it’s high time you get yourself an air purifier.

5. You suffer from an autoimmune disease

Autoimmune diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis spring up not because of any pathogens or particles, but from the body attacking its own cells. This can be devastating because the sufferer is more susceptible to attacks from other opportunistic pulmonary diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.

Here is where an air purifier becomes handy. By sifting out probable disease causing pathogens and reducing the number particles that can cause irritation to your immune system, it becomes easier to manage complications.

6. Reducing exposure to secondary smoke and heavy traffic/industrial emissions

Emission from secondary cigarette smoke, heavy traffic and industrial facilities is capable of causing diseases ranging from bronchitis to tumors that can lead to cancer. The particles in the emission can equally irritate the lungs and nasal passageways.

However, with an air purifier in your home, you can get rid of particulates from emissions thereby reducing the ill effects it causes. Also, having a purifier in room separate from a smoker’s room can reduce the likelihood of the non-smoker from second hand smoke.

7. Your house has suffered water damage

Buildings built with stone and untreated wood can encourage the growth of mould on the event it suffers water damage. Black mould (Stachybotrys) in particular is dangerous if inhaled as the spores can cause serious allergic reactions. On top of this, the mould can produce mycotoxins which can disturb human health as it causes nausea.

Sometimes the mould grows in regions where it cannot be identified, for instance, beneath the floorboards or in the walls of the building. They then produce spores that can get into your home via the ventilation system. The installation of a purifier is an effective technique of reducing exposure to mould.

8. Smells/ Odours

Smells and odors can come from a variety of places due to various reasons. The effects of the smell can range from benign to nausea inducing variety. It is a problem mostly in houses that are old and neglected for a long time or those that have suffered damage like fires and flooding.

In such cases, the smell of smoke and wood rot is usually present in the air inside the building. An air purifier in your home has the ability to filter the air and get rid of nauseating odours allowing you to live a comfortable and fulfilling life.

9. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity occurs due to an individual’s long exposure to chemicals present in indoor air. An example is sensitivity to turpentine and its odor which is normally used as a paint thinner. You may also be overly sensitive to common household smells like that of bleach, sprays and detergents that reduce the quality of life indoors or even trigger pulmonary irritation. With an indoor air purifier, you can improve indoor air quality because it filters such chemicals from the air which allows you to live a quality life when at home.

10. Living quarters connected to a garage

When your room is next to the garage, complication can arise because of constant exposure to car fumes and exhaust as well as dust brought in by the car. The resulting complications can range from irritation of the airways and nasal passages to bronchitis. It is therefore necessary to acquire an air purifier if your living quarters is connected to a garagefor you to avoid the associated health problems.

11. Pregnancy

If you are a pregnant woman, you arehighly susceptible to complications originating from the inhalation of microbes and foreign particles in the air at home. Medics even argue that it can put the life of your unborn child at risk. A good example is the microbe Toxoplasma gondii which is hosted in cats and can be inhaled by a pregnant woman.

Once the microbe is in the body, it causes developmental complications in the foetus that may result in stillbirth. However, with the use of an air purifier, you are able to avoid such an incidence because some purifiers sifts out microbes as small as the Toxoplasma thus reducing the risks of exposure.

12. Small children

Children are extremely susceptible to diseases owing to their weakly developed immune systems. By having an air purifier within your household, it is possible to ensure the children are more protected from air borne diseases or conditions brought about by respiratory complications.

13. Chemical storage within your home

If you live in a home where there are a lot of chemical products, it is prudent to invest in an air purifier to protect your health in the long-term. Such chemicals including paints, sprays, solvents, bleaches or oils can make you prone to complications as a result of constant exposure, especially if they produce vapours.

14. You have a home office

What most people fail to notice about computers is that they also produce fumes and dust as they run the fans keeping them cool. Furthermore, you need a home office just has good indoor air quality. It is therefore important to get an air purifier to protect yourself from air impurities for you to be productive in your home office.

15. You’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle

While all the above reasons have merit, wanting a purifier for the sake of a healthier lifestyle is a fulfilling choice. Studies have shown that air purifiers have the ability to augment healthy living. You’ll always be in good health by breathing in fresh and purified air.

Image credit: philips


Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

Latest posts by Rinkesh (see all)