Biotechnology has vast potential for use in Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Medicine, Food Industry, Chemical Industry, Pollution Control and Environment.
The applications of biotechnology to agriculture are vast. The following activities will help to ensure sustain development in agriculture.
(a) Genetic engineering:
Crop plants like wheal maize, corn, cotton, potato etc. can be developed endowed with extra genes for disease and pest resistance and high yielding through genetic engineering.
(b) Hybrid seeds:
Hybrid seeds can be developed through biotechnology by union of two different genotypes which is superior to its parents under different agromic conditions. It is very successful in vegetable crops like brinjal, tomato, cucurbita etc.
(c) Tissue culture:
A major thrust area in biotechnological research in India is tissue culture. Various vegetative plants of agricultural, horticultural and plantation crops can be developed through micro propagation, clonal propagation, somatic embryogenesis. Plants supplied for "Social Forestry Programme" are developed by tissue culture. The main advantage of tissue culture application is that enumerable plants can be developed within a very short span.
Biotechnology plays a major role in developing biofertilisers.
A numbers of micro-organisms have ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen and enhance the fertility of soil. Hence these micro-organisms are called biofertilisers" (bio = living and fertilisers). The best examples are (i) Blue green algae: such as Anabana, Anabamopsis, Nostoc and Tolypothrix etc.
(ii) Free living bacteria like Azotobacter, Mycobacterium, Closteriainum, Rhodospirillum, Bacillus, Escherichia etc.
(ii) Symbiotic bacteria, like Rhizobium Legumisorium for Legume Plants.
(iv) Higher plant:
an Azolla Blue Green alga is the biofertiliser of paddy. They fix nitrogen increasing 20-30% of production. Rlizobium biofertiliser when applied to field can fix 50-200 kg of nitrogen per hectare per year. Azotobacter and Azospirillium are Biofertilisers for cereal crops.
The biofertilisers are supplied to field in the form of inoculants and can improve soil structure, texture, water holding capacity, supply of nutrients and proliferation of useful soil micro organisms. These are cheaper in comparison to chemical fertilisers without any side effects.
Considering the advantages of biofertilisers, Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India, has launched a national project on development and use of biofertilisers in March 1993.
A National Biofertiliser Development Centre has been established at Ghaziabad along with six regional centres. Under this scheme, the innoculant of these organisms are found in. labeled packets for selling in market. Subsidy facilities are there to encourage farmers for using biofertilisers.
(e) Bio-insecticides and bio-pesticides:
Biotechnology has reduced the use of pesticides and insecticides by developing pests and insect’s resistance varieties of crop plants and biocontrol agents.
(II) ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
Biotechnological applications in the fields of animal husbandry include production of superior breeds through cell fusions or hybridoma technology, improving health by developing safe and efficient vaccines for infectious diseases, embryo transfer, animal cell culture etc.
In the field of fisheries, biotechnology contributes development of feed of fish and prawn larvae, production of fish growth hormones by DNA technology, enhancement of nutritive value of fish and prawns through gene technologies, increasing production of fisheries through hormone technologies etc.
Artificial insemination acts as a powerful device to produce desired type of animal with increased potential. Calves can be produced from frozen and preserved cattle embryos. Now, it is possible to develop an exact copy of mother animal through Chiming Technology. Without any aid from its male counterpart, an Ireland ewe, Dolly is developed through cloning recently from her mother.
(III) HUMAN HEALTH
The developments of human insulin through microbes and human growth hormone for treatment of dwarf sin have already been achieved. Researches are done for developing monoclonal antibodies for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases diagnosis, treatment of cancer and detection of tambour metastasis easy bone marrow transplantation methodology development of interferon’s, blood clotting factors and many more^
In the field of food industry, biotechnology is mainly applied for increasing nutritive value of food, better preservation, enhancement of flavor and protein content and prevention due to spoilage of food. Mass cultivation of mushrooms and food algue spiraling are also encouraged through biotechnology as they have higher protein content.
From production of biomass and biogas for energy to biosensors for environmental monitoring, biotechnology plays a crucial role in industry. It is employed in biodegradation of plastics and polymers, management of pesticides in environment, treatment of sewage and industrial effluents, using microbes for oil drilling, microbial application for bioleaching, degradation of solid waters, sewage treatment etc.
Production of biogas and liquid fuel like methane, ethane and from agriculture wastes through fermentation is a significant achievement.
Application of biotechnology is increasing day by day with its entry to the new and newer fields. Really, we can simply say that biotechnology has brought a great revolution to our present day life.