Apropos the letter on the aforesaid topic by S.R. Kathio which deserves attention and action. Biotechnology is a multidisciplinary science as it has its foundation in many scientific disciplines. The application of microorganisms is at the core of many enabling biotechnologies.
Biotechnology was an artisanal skill rather than a science in the manufacture of bread, beer, yogurt and cheese, etc., when the techniques were reproducible while the biological processes were not understood.
As the scientific basis of these biotechnological processes developed, it has led to a more efficient manufacturing of the traditional processes that represent the major financial return of biotechnology (bread, beer, alcohol, cheese etc).
Major biotechnological processes have generated a wide range of novel products including enzymes, vaccines and antibiotics which have been optimised by improved practices.
The increasing understanding of genomics and proteomics has led to the creation of a vast range of transgenic organisms (transfer of gene from one organism to another by means of microorganism), agricultural crops and animals have revolutionized the traditional food and drinking industries. Biotechnology innovations are creating major advances in increasing soil fertility, plants nutrition by means of Rhizobias and Mycorrhizas and in remediating the polluted soil of toxic elements.
The world is at the threshold of the greatest advances in producing plants capable of nitrogen fixing microorganisms in roots of non-leguminous plants and in protection of diseases by effecting changes in the genetic makeup of plants. Understanding the structural and functional activities of microorganisms and a better knowledge on the selection an efficient microbial strain together with the improved bio-processes have yielded major advances in the traditional industries together with cost effectiveness.
These biotechnological advances in which the microorganism is at the core of bio-processes greatly enlarge the scope of improvements in the welfare of mankind that far exceed than the microelectronics.
The role of microorganisms in the use of various techniques for the advancement of science will no doubt be the major technology of the 21st century.
Dr. M. Jalaluddin, Dept of Agriculture, University of Karachi @Karachi