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What Is Molecular Biotechnology?

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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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Molecular biotechnology is the ability to alter genetic materials, as well as transfer them between organic cells, by scientists in a laboratory. It involves the use of recombinant proteins for genetic engineering, for example, and creating products that have a profound impact on daily life. The manipulation of proteins and nucleic acids can be accomplished with single-celled organisms, multi-cellular species, and plants. Biotechnology molecular studies have an impact on health, in addition to agriculture, manufacturing, and the environment. By studying biological processes, it is possible to create drugs for a myriad of diseases, detect pathogens in foods, and make disease-resistant crops to maximize the yield for agricultural farmers.

A complete map of the human genome has improved molecular biotechnology, as knowing the roles of each gene in diseases and body functions has helped to create more effective medicines and vaccines. Antibodies to illnesses have been developed with this information, using laboratory research and advances in biology. In molecular plant biotechnology, it is also possible to alter the genetics of plants so that crops can be made to resist diseases or substances such as herbicides. Farming assets such as livestock can also benefit as genetic engineering can lead to more desirable characteristics for animals sold on the market.

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In the field of molecular biotechnology, single-celled microorganisms may eventually be altered to create specific enzymes, chemicals, and even antibiotics for use in human medicine. Aside from the future potential past 2011, biotechnology at the molecular level is useful for making diagnoses in medicine. Physicians can analyze blood samples for subtle hints of diseases, infections, and cardiovascular conditions by detecting small volumes of molecules. Biochemicals can also be modified for use in commercial applications, so bioluminescent compounds can be utilized to create labels or develop equipment tailored for analyzing laboratory samples.

Marine molecular biotechnology is another significant part of the field because so many useful microorganisms are found in oceans, lakes, and rivers. Oceans are the focus of organisms to study, gain information on genetics, and potentially find new medicines. Like many aspects of molecular biotechnology, marine science continues to be researched. The many areas of the field are open to study at many higher education institutions across the United States, including those specializing in marine science. Research even begins at the student level so advances in biotechnology are both beneficial for science as well as the job market in this expanding sector of the economy.

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