Biotechnology in Action

Unit Introduction

This Biotechnology unit is designed to complement the laboratory-based units provided in this Toolbox and the scenario chosen follows and adds to each of the units. These steps fit together to encompass one biotechnology ‘scenario’ that highlights some of the aspects of biotechnology. Customer from Australian Reptiles holding one of the lizards she wants checked for paternity and sex.

It is possible to go straight to a specific step, however Step 1. Introduction to the Scenario is important for gaining an understanding of the purpose of the scenario.

Notify your tutor before starting if you wish to undertake the activities that require tutor feedback.

Step 1. Introduction to the Scenario
This step provides an introduction to the scenario that is developed through the following steps.

Step 2. Communication with the Customer
This step relates to unit PMLCOM500A Provide Information to Customers.
Understanding what a customer requires is essential before undertaking any testing. Good communication will confirm which tests are required, the nature of the samples and who should receive the results.

Step 3. Planning for Extraction of DNA
This step relates to unit PMLORG500A Schedule Laboratory Work for a Small Team.
A laboratory technician needs to be able to plan, prioritise work and allocate tasks. Part of this process is selecting the most appropriate technique from the range available that will meet the requirements of the testing.

Step 4. Maintaining the Biotechnology Laboratory
This step relates to unit PMLMAIN500A Maintain and Control Stocks.
Many of the activities involved in biotechnological laboratory procedures require the laboratory technician to maintain the laboratory in an operational manner. This includes the ability to order, maintain and control the use of laboratory materials and equipment in the work area.

Step 5. Extraction and Quantitation of DNA from Lizard Skin

This step relates to unit PMLTEST506A Apply Spectrometric Techniques.
After extraction and purification steps the laboratory technician needs to apply spectrometric techniques to quantitate the DNA to ensure quantity and purity.

Step 6. Calibration and Setting Up of Equipment
This step relates to unit PMLTEST500A Calibrate and Maintain Instruments.

The DNA is in a form ready for analysis but before performing this analysis the laboratory technician needs to set up and calibrate the agarose gel equipment and pour the gel according to standard methods.

Step 7. Running the Gel
This step relates to unit PMLTEST507A Apply Chromatographic and Electrophoretic Techniques.

The laboratory technician needs to apply chromatographic and electrophoretic techniques by running the gel so the DNA separates.

Step 8. Communication of Results
This step relates to unit PMLCOM500A Provide Information to Customers.

In the diagnostics laboratory the work is not complete until the information is sent to the customer in a timely, accurate and easily understood form. The form used to respond to a customer inquiry is the Laboratory Test Sheet.

Please also note that this biotechnology unit has the following features and does not purport to be a comprehensive introduction to biotechnology.

Features of this unit:

  • a brief introduction to biotechnology in general
  • a brief introduction to some of the concepts of biotechnology, and
  • an example of how the concepts covered in the units may be applied within one scenario.
Laboratory Technician working in the DNA Lab.


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