In this article we will discuss about Applications of Recombinant DNA Technology:- Production of Transgenic Plants, Production of Transgenic Animals, Production of Hormones, Production of Vaccines, Biosynthesis of Interferon, Production of Antibiotics, Production of Commercially Important Chemicals, Application in Enzyme Engineering, Prevention and Diagnosis of Diseases, Gene Therapy, Applications in forensic science, Biofuel Production and Environment Protection
Genetic engineering or Recombinant DNA Technology has enormous and wide-spread applications in all the fields of biological sciences. Some important applications of Recombinant DNA technology are enlisted below:
I) Production of Transgenic Plants
By utilizing the tools and techniques of genetic engineering it is possible to produce transgenic plants or the genetically modified plants. Many transgenic plants have been developed with better qualities like resistance to herbicides, insects or viruses or with expression of male sterility, etc.
Also they allow the production of commercially important biochemical, pharmaceutical compounds, etc. Genetic engineering is capable of introducing the improved post-harvest characteristics in plants also. Transgenic plants also aid in the study of the functions of genes in plant species.
II) Production of Transgenic Animals
By the use of rec DNA technology, desired genes can be inserted into the animal so as to produce the transgenic animal. The method of rec DNA technology aids the animal breeders to increase the speed and range of selective breeding in case of animals. It helps for the production of better farm animals so as to ensure more commercial benefits.
Another commercially important use of transgenic animals is the production of certain proteins and pharmaceutical compounds. Transgenic animals also contribute for studying the gene functions in different animal species. Biotechnologists have successfully produced transgenic pigs, sheep, rats and cattle.
III) Production of Hormones
By the advent of techniques of rec DNA technology, bacterial cells like E.coli are utilized for the production of different fine chemicals like insulin, somatostatin, somatotropin and p-endorphin. Human Insulin Hormone i.e., Humulin is the first therapeutic product which was produced by the application of rec DNA technology.
The genes of interest are incorporated into the bacterial cells which are then cloned. Such clones are capable of producing a fair amount of hormones like insulin which have great commercial importance.
IV) Production of Vaccines
Vaccines are the chemical preparations containing a pathogen in attenuated (or weakened) or inactive state that may be given to human beings or animals to confer immunity to infection. A number of vaccines have been synthesized biologically through rec DNA technology.
These vaccines are effective against numerous serious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses or protozoa. These include vaccines for polio, malaria, cholera, hepatitis, rabies, smallpox, etc. The generation of DNA vaccines has revolutionized the approach of treatment of infectious diseases. DNA-vaccine is the preparation that contains a gene encoding an immunogenic protein from the concerned pathogen.
V) Biosynthesis of Interferon
Interferon’s are the glycoproteins which are produced in very minute amounts by the virus-infected cells. Interferon’s have antiviral and even anti-cancerous properties. By rDNA technology method, the gene of human fibroblasts (which produce interferon’s in human beings) is inserted into the bacterial plasmid.
These genetically engineered bacteria are cloned and cultured so that the gene is expressed and the interferon’s are produced in fairly high quantities. This interferon, so produced, is then extracted and purified.
VI) Production of Antibiotics
Antibiotics produced by microorganisms are very effective against different viral, bacterial or protozoan diseases. Some important antibiotics are tetracyclin, penicillin, streptomycin, novobiocin, bacitracin, etc.
rDNA technology helps in increasing the production of antibiotics by improving the microbial strains through modification of genetic characteristics.
VII) Production of Commercially Important Chemicals
Various commercially important chemicals can be produced more efficiently by utilizing the methods of rec DNA technology. A few of them are the alcohols and alcoholic beverages obtained through fermentation; organic acids like citric acid, acetic acid, etc. and vitamins produced by microorganisms.
VIII) Application in Enzyme Engineering
As we know that the enzymes are encoded by genes, so if there are changes in a gene then definitely the enzyme structure also changes. Enzyme engineering utilizes the same fact and can be explained as the modification of an enzyme structure by inducing alterations in the genes which encode for that particular enzyme.
XI) Prevention and Diagnosis of Diseases
Genetic engineering methods and techniques have greatly solved the problem of conventional methods for diagnosis of diseases. It also provides methods for the. prevention of a number of diseases like AIDS, cholera, etc. Monoclonal antibodies are useful tools for disease diagnosis. Monoclonal antibodies are produced by using the technique called hybridoma technology.
The monoclonal antibodies bear specificity against a specific antigen. These are used in the diagnosis of diseases due to their specificity. Genetic engineering allows the production of hybridoma which is a cell obtained by the fusion of a lymphocyte cell capable of producing antibodies and a single myeloma cell (tumour cell).
X) Gene Therapy
Gene therapy is undoubtedly the most beneficial area of genetic engineering for human beings. It involves delivery of specific genes into human body to correct the diseases. Thus it is the treatment of diseases by transfer and expression of a gene into the patients’ cells so as to ensure the restoration of a normal cellular activity.
On the basis of types of cells into which the functional genes are introduced, the gene therapy may be classified as somatic gene therapy and germ line gene therapy. Gene therapy is done either by using in vivo strategy (also called as patient therapy) or by using the ex vivo strategy.
XI) Applications in forensic science
The applications of rec DNA technology (or genetic engineering) in forensic sciences largely depend on the technique called DNA profiling or DNA fingerprinting. It enables us to identify any person by analysing his hair roots Wood stains, serum, etc. DNA fingerprinting also helps to solve the problems of parentage and to identify the criminals.
XII) Biofuel Production
Biofuels are derived from biomass and these are renewable and cost effective. Genetic engineering plays an essentially important role in a beneficial and large scale production of biofuels like biogas. bio hydrogen biodiesel bio-ethanol., etc. Genetic engineering helps to improve organisms for obtaining higher product yields and product tolerance.
Genetically stable high producing microorganisms are being developed by using modern rDNA techniques, which aid in an efficient production of bioenergy.
The energy crop plants are those plants which use solar energy in a better way for production of biomass. Genetic improvements of these energy crop plants greatly help for quick and high Product on of biomass which in turn reduces the biofuel production cost. The fermenting microbes which are utilized for biogas production are improved at the genetic level for achieving better result.
XIII) Environment Protection
Genetic engineering makes its contributions to the environment protection in various ways. Most important to mention are the new approaches utilized for waste treatments and bioremediation Environment protection means the conservation of resources and hence to limit the degradation of environment.
Major approach in environment protection is the use of recDNA technology for degradation of toxic pollutants which harm the environment. Different microbes used for sewage treatment, waste water treatment, industrial effluent treatment and for bioremediation are greatly improved by genetic engineering practices and thus present better results.
The plant species can also be developed by using various gene transfer techniques for acquiring better options for phytoremediation. Biological deodorization is a newer technology that involves the decomposition of bad stalling ingredients by microorganisms Genetic peering play an equally sincere attention towards the improvisation and betterment of such deodorizing microbes.