Highlights - Introduction

1. Biotechnology is literally the use of the processes of biology to make life easier.

2. Examples of biotechnology include ancient examples that include the making of beer and bread (both of which use yeast) and more modern uses that include exotic examples, such as novel antibiotics (such as penicillin) and oddball things like manipulations that turn animals color or produce light.

3. The different things that the same yeast is doing in making bread and making beer or wine are determined by the presence or absence of oxygen. Making bread involves yeast rapidly metablizing the nutrients in bread dough. This results in the production of carbon dioxide and occurs rapidly because metabolism in oxygen is more rapid.

4. By contrast, making beer can take weeks. In the absence of oxygen, cells are much lest able to do things and thus make byproducts (in this case, ethanol) more slowly.

5. The roots of our understanding of biology can be traced to the development of the microscope by van Leeuwenhoek (who discovered bacteria and other microbes that he called "animalcules") and Hooke, who discovered individual cells in plant tissue.

6. The roots of molecular biology can be traced to Schrodinger in the 1930s who proposed that the roots of biological phenomena can be found in molecules. Notably, Schrodinger's observations pre-dated our understanding of the structure and function of DNA.

7. Genetics is the science of heredity. It is based on the fact that specific traits (hair color, eye color, for example) are determined by genes that are passed from one generation to the next. The monk Gregor Mendel first demonstrated such transmission of genes by studying traits of peas.

That's enough for one day. See you Thursday.