Can Biotechnology Help the Environment?
Biotechnology and the environment are not usually associated in a positive way these days. However, the use of molecular biology techniques has rapidly improved environmental monitoring in recent years and biotechnology may help to solve some environmental problems in the future.
The sensitivity of molecular biology enables scientists to quickly and accurately identify both the type of contamination and its source, and whether it is microbial or man made. For instance, use of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) enables the identification of outbreaks of pathogens such as MRSA much more quickly than was possible using traditional microbiology techniques. Such methods could take days or even weeks to identify a pathogen and could never be sure to identify the source of contamination with complete accuracy. This has now all changed thanks to molecular biology.
Your students can try both traditional and molecular techniques for analyzing contamination. In our How Clean Is the Water We Drink and Air We Breathe Kit your students can use simple microbiology techniques. They can try more sophisticated microbiological techniques using fluorescent dyes in our Water Quality Testing Kit 1.
However, for the latest in molecular techniques, try one of our PCR kits. Water Quality Testing Kit 2 shows how PCR is used to detect water contamination whereas our PCR-Based Identification of Genetically Modified Foods Kit can be used to look for GMO products in the environment.
In parallel with the increased use of molecular techniques to detect and identify contamination and pollution, the same techniques are being developed to remove pollution once it has happened. Traditional methods to clean up oil spills with detergents cause almost as much harm as the oil itself. New methods using oil eating bacteria remove the oil without causing harm to the environment. Your students can try this for themselves with our Oil Eating Bacteria Kit.