Notes-Part-2-Class-12-Biology-Chapter-12-Biotechnology-Maharashtra Board


Maharashtra Board-Class-12th-Biology-Chapter-12


Topics to be Learn : Part-1

  • Biotechnology
  • Principles and Processes of Biotechnology
  • Methodology for r-DNA technology

Topics to be Learn : Part-2

  • Applications of Biotechnology
  • Bioethics
  • Effects of Biotechnology on the Environment
  • Effects of Biotechnology on Human Health
  • Biopatent and Biopiracy

Applications of Biotechnology:

Biotechnology covering a broad spectrum of scientific applications used in many sectors, such as health and agriculture industry, environment and genomics.

(1) Healthcare Biotechnology :

It involves unique, targeted and personalized therapeutic and diagnostic solutions for organ transplant, stem cell technology, genetic counselling, forensic medicine, gene probes, genetic fingerprinting and karyotyping.

Human insulin production using r-DNA technology.

Vaccine : A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity against a certain disease.

Vaccine is often made from a weakened or killed form of the microorganism, its toxins or one of its surface protein antigens.

Vaccine production :

Vaccine production :

  • Recombinant vaccines, naked DNA vaccines, viral vector vaccines and plant derived vaccines are found to be most effective against various diseases.
  • Modern diagnostic test kits include rickettsial, bacterial and viral vaccines along with radio-labelled biological therapeutics for imaging and analysis.

Oral vaccines:

Production of edible vaccine :

  • Edible vaccine is an edible plant part engineered to produce an immunogenic protein, which when consumed gets recognized by immune system.
  • Immunogenic protein of certain pathogens are active when administered orally.
  • The gene encoding for immunogenic protein is isolated and inserted in a suitable vector.
  • Recombinant vector is then transferred to plant genome.
  • Expression of this gene in specific parts of the plant results in the synthesis of immunogenic proteins.
  • When animals or mainly humans consume these plant parts, they get vaccinated against certain pathogen.

Production of ‘melt in the mouth’ vaccines :

  • Melt in the mouth’ vaccines can be administered by placing them under your tongue that delivers it into the blood stream.
  • Example : Production of flu vaccine by Bacillus which melts in the mouth.
  • The tremendous benefit of such vaccines, is the comfort of administeration, low cost and ease of storage.
Proteins produced by r-DNA technology. Disorder/ Diseases/ Health condition
Erythropoeitin Anaemia
Interleukin-1 receptor Asthma
Platelet derived growth factor Atherosclerosis
Tissue plasminogen Activator (TPA) Urokinase Blood clots
Interferons, tumour necrosis factor interleukins, macrophage activating factor Cancer
Insulin Diabetes
α 1- Antitrypsin Emphysema
Factor VIII Haemophilia A
Factor IX Haemophilia B
Hepatitis B vaccine Hepatitis B
Relaxin Partiurition


Advantages of edible vaccine :

  • Edible vaccine is an edible plant part engineered to produce an immunogenic protein, which when consumed gets recognized by immune system.
  • Immunogenic protein of certain pathogens are active when administered orally.
  • When animals or mainly humans consume these plant parts, they get vaccinated against certain pathogen.
  • Oral or edible vaccines have low cost, they are easy to administer and store.

(2) Agriculture :

Application of biotechnology in agriculture :

Genetically modified organisms, Bt Cotton, pest resistant plants, improvement in the agricultural productivity.

Applications of tissue culture :

  • Micropropagation i.e. large-scale propagation of plants in very short durations.
  • Storage of germplasm and maintaining clone of plants which produce recalcitrant seeds or highly variable seeds. Recalcitrant seeds are those whose survival and viability gets affected because of dehydration and freezing.
Know This :

Recalcitrant means the reduction in the seed moisture contents below certain levels and freezing drastically reduces the servival and thus present difficulty in storage. Here, subcellular damage of seeds occur accompanied by consequent loss of viability, when dried.

(3) Gene therapy :

  • Gene therapy is the treatment of genetic disorders by replacing, altering or supplementing a gene that is absent or abnormal and whose absence or abnormality is responsible for the disease.
  • Genes can be delivered by three ways, viz. Ex vivo delivery, in vivo delivery and use of virosomes [Liposome + inactivated HIV) and bionic chips.

Delivery of genes into cells :

  • Ex vivo delivery where cells are removed from the patients and then gene is introduced using viral or non-viral vectors e.g. Parkinsons disease, a neurological disorder.
  • In vivo delivery where therapeutic genes are directly delivered in the cells at the target sites of the diseased tissue in the patient- like intravenous infusion genes to treat cancer are injected directly into tumor.
  • Use of virosomes (Liposome + inactivated HIV), bionic chips are the other methods of gene delivery.

Gene therapy is being used in many ways.

For example, to:

  • Replace missing or defective genes;
  • Deliver genes that speed the destruction of cancer cells;
  • Supply genes that cause cancer cells to revert back to normal cells;
  • Deliver bacterial or viral genes as a form of vaccination;
  • Deliver DNA to antigen expression and generation of immune response;
  • Supply of gene for impairing viral replication;
  • Provide genes that promote or impede the growth of new tissue; and
  • Deliver genes that stimulate the healing of damaged tissue.

Forms of gene therapy :

Forms of gene therapy :

(i) Germ line gene therapy :

  • In this germ cells are modified genetically to correct a genetic defect.
  • Normal gene is introduced into germ cells like sperms, eggs, early embryos.
  • It allows transmission of the modified genetic information to the next generation.
  • Although it is highly effective in treatment of the genetic disorders, its use is not preferred in human beings because of various technical and ethical reasons.

(ii) Somatic cell gene therapy :

  • In this somatic cells are modified genetically to correct a genetic defect.
  • Healthy genes are introduced in somatic cells like bone marrow cells, hepatic cells, fibroblasts endothelium and pulmonary epithelial cells, central nervous system, endocrine cells and smooth muscle cells of blood vessel walls.
  • Modification of somatic cells only affects the person being treated and the modified chromosomes cannot be passed on the future generations.
  • Somatic cell gene therapy is the only feasible option and the clinical trials have already employed for the treatment of disorders like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, SCID, Gaucher’s disease, familial hypercholesterolemia, haemophilia, phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anaemia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, emphysema, thalassemia, etc.


Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) :

Genetically modified organisms are those whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering to create combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and virals genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.

Transgenic Plants :

Transgenic plants are genetically engineered to carry various desirable traits.

Transgenic plants have been developed for :

  • Insect pest resistance : e.g. Bt cotton and Transgenic tobacco.
  • Biofortification : Improvement in quantity and quality of vitamin, proteins, oil and iron.
  • Tolerance to abiotic stresse and herbicides.
  • Resistance to various diseases.
  • Improvement in post-harvest characteristics : e. g. Flavr savr tomatoes.

Examples of transgenic plants :

Examples of transgenic plants :

  • Bt Cotton : Bt cotton is a transgenic plant. Bt toxin gene has been cloned and introduced in many plants to provide resistance to insects without the need of insecticides.
  • Golden rice : It is a genetically engineered rice with higher beta carotene (provitamin A) content.
  • Flavr savr tomato : It is developed by inhibiting synthesis of polygalactournonase by inserting antisense gene. This type of tomato has a longer shelf life.

Examples of insect resistant transgenic crops:

BT crops :

  • Insect resistant transgenic plants contain either a gene from B.thuringiensis or the cowpea trypsin inhibitor gene.
  • ‘cry’ gene present in B. thuringiensis produces a protein that forms crystalline inclusions in bacterial spores. When insect ingests it, because of high pH and the proteinase enzymes present in insects midgut, they are hydrolyzed to release the core toxic fragments.
  • This toxin causes midgut paralysis and disruption of midgut cells of insect.
  • Bt toxin activity has been against many species of insects within the orders of Lepidoptera, Diptera and Coleoptera.

Transgenic tobacco :

  • The gene of on-amylase inhibitor (α Al-Pv), isolated from adzuki bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) is transferred to tobacco.
  • This gene works against pests like Zabrotes subfasciatus and Callosobruchus chinensis.

Examples of biofortified transgenic crops :

  • Golden rice and Golden mustard : These are transgenics rich in vitamin A.
  • Arabidopsis genes are transferred to soybean, oil palm, rapeseed and sunflower for improvement in oil content and oil quality.
  • Ferritin, an iron storage protein, isolated from soybean and Phaseolus is transferred to rice to increase its iron content.
  • Plants deficient in amino acids like methionine, lysine and tryptophan have been engineered to improve protein content.


Transgenic plants can be used as bioreactors or factories :

  • Biochemicals (starch, sugar, lipids and proteins) and biopharmaceuticals (hormones, antibodies, vaccines, drugs or enzymes) isolated from transgenic plants.
  • Fine chemicals, perfumes and adhesive compounds.
  • Industrial lubricants.
  • Biodegradable plastic.
  • ‘Renewable’ energy crops to replace fossil fuels.
  • Superglue : A ‘superglue’ produced by tobacco plants with genes encoding for powerful adhesive proteins, Valuable as a biochemical glue for body repairs during surgery.
  • Edible vaccines : Genetically altered plants can provide protection to infectious diseases. Potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, soybeans, alfalfa and cereals are the most common foods proposed for edible vaccine delivery.

Transgenic animals :

Transgenic animals are the animals in which there has been a deliberate modification of the genome

  • Transgenic animals are produced using Recombinant DNA technology.
  • Foreign DNA is introduced in transgenic animals using r-DNA technology.
  • It is then transmitted through the germ line so that every cell if the animal contains the same modified genetic material.
  • This involves cloning of desired gene and introduction of cloned gene into fertilized eggs, successful implantation of modified eggs into receptive female and obtaining progeny carrying cloned genes.

Application of Transgenic animals :

Application of Transgenic animals :

Transgenic animals are used in various fields such as medical research, toxicology, molecular biology and in pharmaceutical industry..

Transgenic mice and cancer research :

  • Transgenic mice are used in various research areas of cancer research.
  • Transgenic mice containing a particular oncogene (cancer causing gene) develop specific cancer.
  • They are used to study the relationship between oncogenes and cancer development, cancer treatment and prevention of malignancy.
  • The transgenic mouse model for the investigation of the breast cancer was developed in the laboratory of Philip Leder in Harvard (USA).
  • Transgenic mice containing oncogenes myc and ras were analyzed to find out role of these genes in the development of breast cancer.

Transgenic farm animals :

The main objectives for developing transgenic animals are to improve quality and quantity of milk, meat and wool, to increase egg production, to develop disease resistant animals, production of low-cost pharmaceuticals and biologicals.

Transgenic farm animals include :

  • Transgenic cattle :developed for food production and human therapeutic production,
  • Transgenic sheep (developed for production of better quality and quantity of wool and meat. They are also used as bioreactors),
  • Transgenic pig : Developed for improved meat production, as bioreactors and they are useful in human transplants — xenotransplantation.
  • Transgenic chicken : Developed for having traits like lower levels of fat and cholesterol, high protein containing eggs, in vivo resistance to viral and coccidial diseases, better feed efficiency and better meat quality.

Transgenic fish :

  • The commercially important fish like Atlantic salmon, Catfish, goldfish, Tilapia, zebra-fish, common carp, rainbow trout, etc. are transfected with growth hormone, chicken crystalline protein and E.coli hygromycin resistance gene.
  • Transgenic fish showed increased cold tolerance and improved growth.


Bioethics :       

Ethics deals with the matters related to socially acceptable moral duty, conduct and judgment. It helps to regulate the behaviour of community by certain set of standards.

  • Bioethics helps to study moral vision, decision and policies of human behaviour in relation to biological phenomena or events.

It deals with wide range of reactions on new developments like :

  • r-DNA technology, cloning, transgenics and gene therapy.
  • In vitro fertilization, sperm bank, prenatal genetic selection and eugenics.
  • Euthanasia, death, maintaining those who are in comatose state.
  • Use of animals causes great sufferings to them.
  • Violation of integration of species caused due to transgenosis.
  • Transfer of human genes into animals and vice versa.
  • Indiscriminate use of biotechnology poses risk to the environment, health and biodiversity.

Bioethical concerns related to GMO :

  • The effects on non-target organisms, Insect resistance crops.
  • Gene flow
  • The loss of diversity as well as the issue on modification process disrupting the natural process of biological entities.
  • Ethics in biotechnology also includes the general subject of what should and should not be done in using recombinant DNA techniques.

Effects of Biotechnology :

Effects of Biotechnology on the Environment

Herbicide Use and Resistance :

  • Unintended hybrid strains of weeds and other plants can develop resistance to these herbicides through cross-pollination, thus negating the potential benefit of the herbicide.
  • E.g. Crops of Round Up-ready soybeans have already been implemented into agricultural practices, possibly conferring Round Up resistance to neighbouring plants.

Effects on Untargeted Species :

  • Bt corn has adverse effects on untargeted species like Monarch butterfly.
  • GM plants can also have unintentional effects on neutral or even beneficial species.

Effects of Biotechnology on Humane Health :

  • Allergies : GMO crops could potentially have negative effects on human health as well. Consumers have developed unexpected allergic reactions, e.g. Transgenic soyBean containing a gene from the Brazil nut to increase the production of methionine, has caused allergic reactions in those with known nut allergies (Biotech SoyBeans).
  • Long-Term Effects : GMO technology is a recent development and its long-term effects on health cannot be anticipated now.
  • New Proteins : Proteins which were never ingested before, can have potential effects which are not yet known.
  • Food Additives : GMOs also present us with possibilities of introducing additional nutrients into foods, as well as antibiotics and vaccines.The use of GMOs may create antibiotic and vaccine-resistant strains of diseases.


The vast advances in life sciences, multicultural and pluralistic modern societies create numerous bioethical problems. It require some stringent regulation.

In terms of GMOs, the Indian Government has set up the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC). This organization makes decisions regarding the validity of research involving GMOs and addresses the safety of GMOs introduced for public use.

Biopatent and Biopiracy

Patent is a special right granted to the inventor by the government.

A patent consists of three parts-grant(agreement with the inventor), Specification (subject matter of invention) and claims (scope of invention to be protected).

Biopatent :

  • Biopatent is a biological patent awarded for strains of microorganisms, cell lines, genetically modified strains, DNA sequences, biotechnological processes, product processes, product and product applications.
  • Biopatent allows the patent holder to exclude others from making, using, selling or importing protected invention for a limited period of time.
  • Duration of biopatentis five years from the date of the grant or seven years from the date of filing the patent application, whichever is less.
  • Awarding biopatents provides encouragement to innovations and promote development of scientific culture in society. It also emphasizes the role of biology in shaping human society.
  • First biopatent was awarded for genetically engineered bacterium ‘Pseudomonas’ used for clearing oils spills.
  • Patent jointly issued by Delta and Pineland company and US department of agriculture having title ‘control of plant gene expression, is based on a gene that produces a protein toxic to plant and thus prevents seed germination. This patent was not granted by Indian government. Such a patent is considered morally unacceptable and fundamentally unequitable. Such patents would pose a threat to global food security as financially powerful corporations would acquire monopoly over biotechnological process.

Biopiracy :

  • Biopiracy is defined as ‘theft of various natural products and then selling them by getting patent without giving any benefits or compensation back to the host country.
  • It is unauthorized misappropriation of any biological resource and traditional knowledge.
  • It is bio-patenting of bio-resource or traditional knowledge of another nation without proper permission of the concerned nation or unlawful exploitation and use of bioresources without giving compensation.

Examples of Biopiracy :

Examples of Biopiracy :

  • Patenting of Neem (Azadirachta indica)
  • Patenting of Basmati
  • Patcnting of Haldi (Turmeric)

(i) Patenting of Neem (Azadirachta indica) :

  • Pirating India’s traditional knowledge about the properties and uses of neem, the USDA and an American MNC W.R. Grace sought a patent from the European Patent Office (EPO] on the “method for controlling on plants by the aid of hydrophobic extracted neem oil,” in the early 90s.
  • The patenting of the fungicidal properties of Neem, was an example of biopiracy.

(ii) Patenting of Basmati :

  • Texmati is a trade name of “Basmati rice line and grains” for which Texas based American company Rice Tec Inc was awarded a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 1997.
  • This is a case of biopiracy as Basmati is a long-grained, aromatic variety of rice indigenous to the Indian subcontinent.
  • Very broad claims about "inventing" the said rice was the basis of patent application.
  • The UPSTO has rejected all the claims due to people movement against Rice Tec in March 2001.

(iii) Haldi (Turmeric) Biopiracy :

  • A patent claim about the healing properties of Haldi was made by two American researchers of Indian origin of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, to the US Patent and Trademark Office.
  • They were granted a patent in March 1995.
  • This is an example of biopiracy because healing properties of Haldi is not-a new discovery, but it is a traditional knowledge in ayurvedas for centuries.
  • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) applied to the US Patent Office for a reexamination and they realized the mistake and cancelled the patent.


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