Marine Biotechnology

Topics: DNA, Ocean, Marine biology Pages: 6 (1937 words) Published: January 31, 2007
Biotechnology's first impacts occurred on a terrestrial level, but "there's an end to the diversity of terrestrial life. And if you go back and ask a fundamental question: Where on earth does the biodiversity reside, you realize it is the ocean (William Fenical, Scripps Institution)." Marine biotechnology is defined as "the application of scientific and engineering principles to the processing of materials by marine biological agents to provide goods and services (Zilinskas et al., 1995)." Marine organisms have become of scientific importance due to their major shares of biological resources and possessions of unique structures, metabolic pathways, reproductive systems, and sensory and defense mechanisms, as a result of adaptations of intense environments varying from freezing polar waters to enormous pressures on the ocean floors. Marine technology then applies both new and existing biotechnological techniques to the organisms of the sea, which the vast majority has yet to be identified. Marine biotechnology and aquaculture research creates both modern essential understanding and advanced technologies for producing new pharmaceuticals, biomaterials, and other products; expanding and increasing bioremediation and bioprocessing; boosting cultivation of aquatic species; and developing understanding of biological processes in the oceans and their role in global change (Ocean Studies Board, 1994). Since humans have hunted the sea for years, this has left many fisheries and marine ecosystems almost irreparable, yet with new and future applications of marine biotechnology, these ecosystems could be replaced. Human populations continue to increase rapidly, and coastal environments are being severely disturbed by human activities, including pollution and the depletion of some commercially important finfish and shellfish species. A feeling of urgency about decreasing human effect on the ocean, as well as the need to understand how changed ecosystems and the damage of marine species and biodiversity has become an issue that could affect our society. Consequently, new technologies and instruments for biomedical research have now been intended to increase our knowledge of nutrition, reproduction, development, physiology, genetics, and disease. Due to this research, significant insights and essential comprehension of biological systems have been accomplished. Modern marine biotechnology, nevertheless still in its premature years, comprises such new technologies as hybridoma and monoclonal production, protein engineering, and recombinant DNA technology using marine organisms or their components. Fish farming practices are also utilized in order to increase the world's food supply. Cloning and discovery of novel genes within marine organisms will eventually be used to produce disease-free breeder stock of fish to maintain, limit, and advance populations. Also genetic manipulations of finfish and shellfish are being performed in order to improve growth rates and disease resistance. Medical applications derived from marine biotechnology are being produced through recombinant DNA technology as a result of compounds of biomedical interest from marine organisms. By reproducing recombinant proteins of importance, bioprocessing searches for a way to utilize biomass in industrial manufacturing processes. Lastly, biofilming, biosensors, and bioremediation are being used as environmental applications. The growth hormone was one of the first applications of marine biotechnology. Growth hormone is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, which stimulates the growth of bone and muscle cells during adolescence. Cloning the salmon growth hormone gene in return led to transgenic species of salmon that demonstrate significantly accelerated growth rates compared to natural salmon. These cloning techniques have led to fish farming practices which reduce the hunting of natural salmon. Antifreeze...

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