Where Am I ? >  Unit Introduction > Step 1
Step 1. Introduction to the Scenario

Fred, Wilma and George are Australian Shingle Back lizards kept in a breeding colony in Melbourne. Wilma normally produces three to four offspring at a time and there are two important questions that biotechnology can answer for us about these offspring:

  • who sired them, i.e. who the ‘father’ lizard is, and
  • what sex they are.

These questions are vitally important for developing an efficient breeding program to avoid too much inbreeding and because it is not very productive putting two males or two females together in a breeding program!

One of the lizards from the breeding colony.

The scenario for this unit is to follow the testing of lizard samples, from the reception of the samples to the communication of the results.

What is Biotechnology?
This biotechnology unit is an introduction to the vast area of biotechnological sciences. In fact biotechnology is not one science at all but an applied science that encompasses the following broad disciplines.

  • Biochemistry
  • Chemical and Electrical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Commerce
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Law, especially patent law
  • Microbiology
  • Recombinant DNA Techniques
  • Separation Science.

Biotechnology covers diverse fields and can be defined as:

'the application of knowledge about living organisms and their components to make new products and to develop new industrial processes'.

Biotechnology is often referred to as an 'enabling' technology, that is, a technology that triggers wider applications in a number of industries, including the following.

  • Health - pharmaceutical diagnostics, gene therapy, biomedical products, medical devices and equipment.
  • Agriculture - plant and animal breeding, veterinary products and diagnostics.
  • Environment and resources - pollution control, land bio-remediation, water treatment, minerals extraction and processing, wastewater treatment, salinity control, and pest management.
  • Food and beverage processing - starters, enzymes, fermentation, food ingredients fractionation.
  • Industrial applications - agriculture product processing (oils, fibres, etc.), bio-processing, and industrial enzymes.
  • Energy production - biomass.

(This definition for biotechnology was taken from the Victorian Sate Government Biotechnology website at http://www.biotechnology.vic.gov.au/info/).

Read the following Study Notes to find out more about biotechnology.

study notes icon Study Notes: Biotechnology


   Where Am I ? >  Unit Introduction > Step 1