Microorganisms and Biotechnology o level Notes

growth curve

1 Aims and Objectives

Biotechnology is a science that uses the method and process for transformation of natural raw materials into useful product by the application of living organism in the industrial process. The aims of this topic are to:

  • To develop understanding of industrial processes for production of antibiotics, enzymes etc.
  • To develop understanding of techniques for tissue culture, cell culture and organ transplantation.

2 Introduction

Biotechnology involves the production of materials by biological agents through the application of scientific and engineering principles. It is not something new – ancient civilisations used microorganisms in the manufacture of wines, beers, vinegar and cheese.

Biotechnology is now a multimillion pound industry, with applications ranging from agriculture, military through to medical and pharmaceutical purposes. In this topic, we will look at the methods used to produce a diversity of materials by biotechnology.

In line with the Cell Biology module, please refer to this review article which introduces some of the recent applications and demands for animal cell lines for use in biotechnology.

3 Types of cell cultures

Primary cell culture: This is the maintenance of growth of cells dissociated from the parental tissue (such as kidney or liver) using mechanical or enzymatic methods, in culture medium using suitable glass or plastic containers. The primary cell culture could be of two types depending upon the kind of cells in culture.

  • Adherent cells - Cells shown to require attachment for growth are said to be anchorage dependent cells. The adherent cells are usually derived from tissues of organs such as kidney where they are immobile and embedded in connective tissue.
  • Suspension cells - Cells which do not require attachment for growth or do not attach to the surface of the culture vessels are anchorage independent cells/suspension cells. All suspension cultures are derived from cells of the blood system because these cells are also suspended in plasma in vitro e.g. lymphocytes.

Secondary cell cultures: When a primary culture is sub-cultured, it becomes known as secondary culture or cell line. Subculture (or passage) refers to the transfer of cells from one culture vessel to another culture vessel. This is periodically required to provide fresh nutrients and growing space for continuously growing cell lines. The process involves removing the growth media and disassociating the adhered cells (usually enzymatically). Such cultures may be called secondary cultures.

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