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                  ENVIRONMENTAL BIOTECHNOLOGY

 

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

      Environment consists of the sum of all the factors outside an organism. It consists of both biotic (other organisms) as well as abiotic (water, temperature, air, etc.) factors. Thus for a given organism, other organisms constitute a component of the environment, while the organism itself becomes a factor of the environment of other organisms. The environment considered in this is from the view- points of man and, hence, regards all other organisms as components of the environment. Virtually all the energy present in the biological world, and in the fossil fuels, is solar energy trapped in the form of chemical energy by photosynthetic plantsand certain microorganisms, they use carbon dioxide as carbon source( photoautotroph’s). However, some bacteria obtain energy from oxidation of simple inorganic compounds and use carbon dioxide as carbon source, these are called chemoautotroph’s. The remaining plants and animals obtain their energy by feeding on, generally, the photoautotroph’s directly or on the animals that feed on photo-auxotroph. Initially man obtained all items of his need from nature, but with time he devised a variety of production systems to generate the various consumer products. The natural production processes generally use solar energy, are efficient in use of energy, produce material containing mainly the elements C, N, H, O, P, and S, and all the products are biodegradable. In contrast, production process designed by man are inefficient in energy use, utilize as raw material virtually all elements present on earth, and many of the products of these process are difficult to biodegrade, while many others can not be biodegraded. In addition, these processes ordinarily generate by-products and/or effluents, witch are released in the environment often with damaging consequences. But natural production systems generally do not generate such damaging by-products.

 

 

     Thus man obtain from the environment his life support systems, witch includes oxygen, energy, water, raw material, nutrient, and place to live. The three abiotic components of environment, viz, air, after, and soil, contribute tin various ways to the fulfillment of human needs. In turn, the various activities of man, e.g., domestic, agricultural, manufacture, transport, war efforts, accidents, etc. generate wastes and pollutants, which contaminate air, water, and soil. The awareness to pollution generating effects of human activities has increased dramatically during the past 2-3 decades. In response, man has strived to minimize the damaging effects of his activities on the environment by developing (1) technologies to clean up the pollution generated by other technologies (such technologies are often called’ end of the pipe’ technologies) and/or (2). Production technologies, witch is “cleaner” and generate less pollution (these are called ‘front of the pipe’ technologies). Both these approaches minimize damage to the environment. However, the term environmental biotechnology is applied only to the ‘end of the pipe’ technologies using biological agent, i.e. Biotechnological approaches applied to the management of environment problems. since man learnt to domesticate plants for using them as a whole, or their product, more and more plants have been taken for cultivation ore are being collected from the wilderness for use. This has resulted in the unequal distribution of species in different region, receiving anthropogenic pressure of differing intensity. More frequent use of certain plant species, through collection from natural vegetation, is causing the shrinkage of their germless and overall reduction of biodiversity of the concerned region. Similarly, more importance on the high yielding varieties of important cultivated species has caused the shrinkage of the shrinkage of the existence and distribution of the traditional land races and the wild species, now, with the development in the biotechnology, its application for protection and improvement of biodiversity has become a new area of research.

 

 

 

 

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

 

       In last fifteen years progress have been made by microbiologists and genetic engineers , and we are hopeful to solve many fold problems of the present day , specially energy and food, crisis to cater the need of growing population of the world. Mineral ore deposits are also becoming more scarce and expensive to recover from earth’s crust. Microorganisms can be used to enhance the recovery of metals from low grade ores and from effluents containing undesirable quantities of heavy metals or other toxins. When these technologies are applied at industrial level. They constitute bio-diversity. Some historical sadevelopment in environmental biotechnology are- in 1962 mining of uranium with the aid of microbes begins in Canada. In 1973 beginning of genetic engineering. Stanley Cohen produced first recombinant DNA organism, Brazilian government initiates major fuel programs to replace oil with alcohol. 1985 genetically engineered plants resistant to insect, viruses, and bacteria were field tested for the first time.

 

 

 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL BIOTECH IN BRIEF

 

 

   We describe the environmental biotechnology in brief- environmental basic concepts and issue ; water; natural resource and its management, source of water pollution and biological treatment process and their microbiology; aerobic process- oxidation ponds, rotating discs, rotating drums, anaerobic process-anaerobic digestion, anaerobic filter, up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket reactors. Microbiology of degradation of xenobiotics in environment- ecological hydrocarbons, oil pollution, surfactants, pesticides. Solid- waste sources and management,(composting, wormiculture, and methane production), bioremediation of contaminated soil and waste- land; biopesticides in integrated pest management. Global environmental problems; UV-B and ozone depletion, green house effect and acid rain, their effects and biotechnological approaches for management, methodology of environmental management- the problem solving approach, its limitation. Biodiversity and its conservation; plant germ plasm collection including of wild species, intra-specific variations in crop plants, molecular characterization of variants, issues of intellectual property rights and legal concerns of bio-resources. Origin of crop plants and their domestication , plant in human nutrition, and animal food, human population growth and global food prospects, food security and availability of food, international agriculture research, CGIAR and agriculture research and development.

 

 

   Classical plant breeding, molecular basis of genetic modification and crop improvement programs, GM food crops, biotechnology in controlling crop diseases , insects and pests. Seed-biology, technology and role in agriculture, seed certification, terminator gene technology and implications, plant as chemical and pharmaceutical factories, bikosafty and GM food crops, international and local regulations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMPORTANCE

 

    Several biological agents, such as, viruses, fungi, amoebae, bacteria, etc., being exploited for the control of plant disease and insect pests (biocontrol). Bacteria are being utilized for detoxification of industrial effluents (wastes), for treatment of sewage and for biogas production. Microbes also being employed for the extraction of the metals from such low grade ores the conventional extraction from witch would be uneconomical(microbial mining). Some selected contribution of environmental biotechnology to human welfare-

 

 

 

                         Product                                                     Remarks

  • Efficient sewage treatment, deodorization           Efficient strain of microbes developed.

of human excreta.

  • Degradation petroleum and management            A strain of Pseudomonas putida.

Of oil spills

 

  • Detoxification of wastes and industrial               Genetically engineered microbes.

Effluents

 

  • Biocontrol of plant disease and insect                Environment friendly; avoids the use of  

                                                                      Pesticides, etc. which cause pollution.

Pest by using viruses, bacteria, amoeba

fungi, etc.

                                                                          

    

     Others advantage of environmental biotechnology is bioremediation that is the process can be done on site with a minimum amount of space and equipment. By treat a site costs, and liability are greatly reduced while extending the life of our current landfills by reducing the amount of wastes the would normally receive. on site treatment may involve excavation of the contaminated soil and construction of a lined treatment cell. If excavating is impractical, the treatment may be conducted without disturbing the contaminated site by using a recalculating injection well system. This process is considered i- situ treatment. both on site and in-situ treatment have their advantages and disadvantages and the decision to use one method of treatment or the other is often dictated by various factor at the site. Environmental biotechnology can also ply an important role in culturing and conserving biodiversity. In ex-situ situation, it provides newer opportunities. A few class of non- living collection of living organisms, in the form of DNA libraries (of naked DNA and genomic and cDNA as well as isolated chromosome) and databases has been made possible to keep alive the hoper of their regeneration in future.

 

 

 

 

GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS

 

 

    Some of the environmental issues attract world wide attention, as they are the global problems- these include green house effect, and global warming, depletion of ozone and acid rain. The global environmental problems along with the environmental sustainability are briefly described in flowingly.-

 

 

 

Green house effect and global warming-

 

  The earth receives solar energy from the sun in the form of short wave radiations (mostly viable light). This solar energy is absorbed by the earth surface and emitted in the space as long-wave (infra red) radiations. If the incoming radiations from the suns and the outgoing radiations from the earth are equal, then a good balance between the absorbed and emitted energy by the earth is maintained, but does not happen. Green house effect refers to the phenomenon of retention of earth’s heat by the atmosphere. The consequence of green house effect is global warming.

 

Ozone deletion-

 

  Ozone is a blue colored gas with a pungent smell. It forms a thick layer in the stratosphere of the atmosphere (16-40 km.). The concentration of ozone is in the range of 2-8 ppm (parts per million by volume) depending on the distance.

 

Acid rain-

 

   The normal rain water is slightly acidic with a pH in the range of 6-7. This acidity is contributed by the naturally according carbon dioxide which gets dissolved in the rain water to form carbonic acid. The lowest pH of the normal rain is around 5.6. When the pH of the rain water is less than 5.5, it is considered as acid rain. This acidity is predominantly contributed by two acids namely sulfuric acid and nitric acid and to a lesser extent by hydrochloric acid and organic acids.

 

 

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