The only introduction to biotechnology on the market today, this timely book has an easy-to-comprehend style that makes it suitable for readers with or without a background in biology. While emphasizing biotechnology's core principles and practices, its cyber-based approach provides a built-in mechanism for updating information in the rapidly evolving biotech field, keeping this book from becoming current and timely. Taking the approach that DNA is universal and can be transferred across natural genetic barriers, this book covers the following topics in the field of biotechnology: the nature of living things and the principles of manipulating them; enabling technologies; different approaches of biotechnology; specific applications such as agricultural (plants and animals), medical, judicial, industrial, and environmental; and social issues such as risk and regulations, ethical implications, developing economies, and biowarfare. This is an excellent reference tool for biotech professionals and those working in the fields of agriculture, medicine, environmental science, nutrition, and health.
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BIOTECHNOLOGY is a rapidly-evolving field in which new information is generated at an astronomical rate. Understanding Biotechnology: An Integrated and Cyber-Based Approach is a textbook designed to enable the reader to quickly access the most current information as well as obtain alternative perspectives on various subjects. Furthermore, while the applications of biotechnology are varied, the principles and concepts are essentially the same. Consequently, an integrated approach to the presentation provides a holistic understanding of the subject of biotechnology.KEY FEATURES:
The book is comprehensive in its coverage and is suitable as a text for an introductory course in general biotechnology in any academic discipline. It provides a detailed discussion of the underlying science and technology of biotechnology presented at a level that can be appreciated by non-science majors. It is also useful as a supplement to an early graduate course in biotechnology. In addition, anyone who is interested in learning about biotechnology in a non-formal setting will find this book tremendously interesting and useful.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Biotechnology is such a rapidly evolving field that perhaps the only way it makes sense to have a textbook on the subject is for the author and publisher to plan to annually update it. Unless, of course, a strategy such as the one adopted in this textbook is followed, whereby the textbook is linked to the very wheels of the vehicle for modern information dissemination—the Internet. In other words, a cyber-based approach is critical to continually keeping a biotechnology textbook current. Without question, there is a tremendous need for textbooks in biotechnology to inform and to instruct. Even though the Internet is currently the most important information Age technology, we do not carry computers with us all the time, nor would we want to stare at a computer screen all the time even if we did carry one. There is a role for the written word in the Information Age that cannot be replaced by computers.
Notwithstanding the rapid rate of its evolution, biotechnology evolves around certain core principles and practices. A textbook on the subject should, therefore, first emphasize these core principles and practices, which are relatively immutable and time honored, and then allow room for growth through planned revisions. Methodologies that are deemed to be "standard" today may be obsolete tomorrow. Even so, it is informative and instructive to understand the evolution of the technologies of biotechnology. Such knowledge guides and stimulates the development of newer technologies. Furthermore, new technology does not become assimilated into the tradition of science overnight. Some older technologies, the proverbial "old reliables," are still depended upon in certain cases for a variety of reasons. For example, isozyme technology is an older technology that is still used in research and industry as a quick and inexpensive means of authenticating the hybridity of a cross, among other uses. In situations where resources are limited, as well as in small-scale studies, older technologies may sometimes be more economical and convenient to use than newer ones.
The Internet currently provides the most expansive forum for the exchange of ideas. It is a playground for both amateurs and professionals, for "sowing wheat and tares," to borrow from the Bible. Without specific guidance, an Internet user has to spend considerable time to sort through the tremendous volume of information available to find useful data. Obviously, a textbook that is supported by a quick guide to supplemental material on the Internet would be very attractive and desirable. This book is supported by such a website guide to important and informative sites.
Another challenge in writing a biotechnology textbook is determining the audience, which determines the depth and scope of coverage as well as the style of presentation of the material. Biotechnology is a household word that has permeated instructional curricula even at the kindergarten level. High school students engage in sophisticated biotechnology projects, as evidenced by the high quality of projects exhibited at science fairs. This textbook is designed to be useful to a fairly broad audience, but especially to early college-level students. Hence, the presentation in this text is graduated, whereby a topic is first introduced in a general way, providing an overview of the subject so that the casual reader who wants to know about the topic for self-edification can understand it. The discussion then proceeds to provide further details.
An introductory textbook should not be bogged down with laboratory protocols. However, whenever appropriate, simple methodologies are described in this textbook. Also, standard protocols are provided for the illustration of certain key techniques. In practice, in academia and industry, the trend is for various research laboratories to customize laboratory protocols according to their needs and system of operation. Furthermore, there are good sites on the Internet to which a reader can be referred to access numerous methodologies.
The Internet also provides opportunities for the reader to view animated clips to help explain the principles and techniques discussed in books. There are also numerous graphics that can be accessed to supplement what is provided in the textbook. By adopting a cyber-based approach, this book provides students with an enhanced learning environment in which additional materials can be accessed as needed, thereby making it unnecessary to include such bulky material in the textbook. This is appropriate as the Internet has become an integral part of the instructional delivery process of modern education.
Biotechnology is ubiquitous in society. It impacts the environment, agriculture, nutrition, industry, and health. Biotechnology depends on principles from a variety of science disciplines, especially biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, physiology, and genetics. Practitioners with good familiarity in these disciplines are more successful. Biological materials share certain biomolecules in common, with a major group being nucleic acids. The major nucleic acid that links all forms of life (with minor exceptions) is DNA. Most analyses and methodologies of biotechnology are generally applicable across species, with slight modifications in certain cases. Furthermore, these technologies and methodologies are developed by scientists working in various disciplines of science and on various organisms, and then adapted for application by workers in other disciplines. For this reason, "agricultural biotechnology" and "medical biotechnology," and for that matter any category of biotechnology, differ in the applications but not the essential principles of these technologies. The author knows persons trained in plant molecular biology who were hired from a highly competitive pool of applicants to work on the Human Genome Project. However, it should be pointed out that certain fundamental biological differences between plants and animals make the application of certain biotechnological techniques more challenging in one area than another.
Another reason for an integrated approach in this text is that the products and use of biotechnology in plants directly or indirectly affect animals, humans, and the environment. Genetically modified plants fed to animals reach humans as meat and other animal products. The nature of these modified plants affects how they are cultivated, and hence the impact of crop culture on the environment.
In view of the foregoing, an introductory textbook on biotechnology should, to some extent, integrate all areas of application. It is informative and useful for a student of agriculture to know how biotechnology is applied to solve problems in industry, medicine, and the environment, and to appreciate the underlying relationships among these areas. This book adopts such an integrated approach, pointing out, where applicable, the differences in the application of techniques between plants and animals. Examples of applications in each field are presented and discussed, with significant emphasis on agriculture where biotechnology application is most visible and most controversial. Since the discipline is rapidly evolving, newer ways of using biotechnology will continue to emerge.
Another aspect of importance that should be addressed in an introductory biotechnology textbook is the matter relating to the acceptance of the processes and products by the beneficiary of research in biotechnology—the general public. Because of the nature of some of the component technologies, the development and application of biotechnology is embroiled in significant controversy. There is a fair amount of public apprehension, some of it rooted in fear from lack of information or misinformation. Some criticisms leveled against biotechnology are also based on personal ethics. Such controversies have economic and political implications. A section in this textbook is devoted to discussing such issues associated with biotechnology.
Finally, biotechnology at an introductory level should be presented in a captivating fashion without watering down the material. Throughout this textbook, the student is engaged through questions and suggestions of things to do to facilitate his or her understanding of the concepts. Frequent reference to the Internet for alternative and colorful graphics and animation breaks the monotony of staring at white pages. The textbook also provides a glossary of terms commonly encountered in biotechnology. This book may be used as a primary text or supplementary text for an undergraduate or graduate course. It may also be utilized for instruction at the pre-college level.
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