Plant biotechnology is categorized as:
(1) Traditional or the classical plant biotechnology that predominantly dealt with cell cultures that were used in the production of wine, milk products, and antibiotics;
(2) Modern or present day plant biotechnology that uses functional analysis at gene level. Various fields and is applied in three major plant areas namely:
(a) in plant growth and development control;
(b) in plant protection against biotic and antibiotic pressures;
(c) and in the production of biochemical, specialty foods, and pharmaceuticals. Plant biotechnology uses various methods from molecular biology and systems biology.
Traditional Plant Biotechnology
Traditional or the classical plant biotechnology can be traced back to the early 20 th century where its applications were predominantly used in plant pathology, plant breeding, plant morphogenesis, and cytogenetics. Then with the discovery of protoplast culture, its applications spread to genome manipulation, cell wall biosynthesis, and somatic cell hybridization. Natural plant products have played vital roles in the ecology and physiology of plants thereby offering resistance from pathogens and other pests. Since metabolites do not leave plants, they were used by humans as poisons, pharmaceuticals, and stimulants.
Scientists began cultivating plant cultures for more commercial purposes and to modify natural and synthetic chemicals compounds.
Modern Plant Biotechnology
Modern-day plant studies have progressed and are still progressing in many directions.
Modern plant biotechnology has proffered several applications in the form a plant gene or protein to industries such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and food. Scientists aim at utilizing modern plant biotechnology studies on topics including:
(1) sustainable agriculture;
(2) genetically modified organisms;
(3) pest management schemes;
(4) molecular farming techniques;
(5) green energy drops production; (6) and development
Plant biotechnology has rapidly developed in of medicinal plants. Modern plant biotechnology has significantly contributed in the production of new crops via metabolic and gene engineering. Some good examples include improved cereals, fruits, vegetables, notably, the heirloom tomato that has transcend generations.
Uses of Plant Metabolites
Plants have various metabolites present that have been source to various products across many industries. Plant metabolites are used in pharmaceuticals (as drug sources); cosmetics (as natural fragrance sources); nutrition (as food coloring and flavoring sources); and agrochemicals (as insecticide and fungicide sources). Plant cell cultures are subjected to screening at several levels for high metabolite productivity. In some cases, high-producing strains are obtained from high-producing clone cells. The popular technique used is the flow cytometry. While in other cases, high-producing cell clones are screened by cell culturing on media that use additives such as toxic analogues o biosynthetic precursors.
A cyanobacterium shares certain metabolic pathways with plant cells and has offered plant engineering with rich source of genes. Cyanobacterial genes have been largely involved in nutritional and/or environmental stresses. Even, the BT toxin from Bacillus thuringiensis,
The milky spore bacterium, is used in various agricultural applications. The only challenge faced by modern-day scientists is the use of specific genes from different sources to yield plants with high tolerance. It is also equally important to yield plants with capacity to produce renewable products or high/good quality food properties. Cyanobacterial proteins are synthesized to generate plants that offer high-yield, tolerate stress, produce high- quality foods, and aid in biopharming.
Plants as Energy sources
Plant biotechnology also deals with plants that serve as energy sources. Plants contain carbon in stored form. This stored carbon is found in coal and oil deposits that are used as energy sources in the form of petrofuels. Further, plant tissues are used in the production of biofuels such as wood fuel (from wood chips); alcohol (from cellulose or starch); and methane (from methane generators). Biofuel industries have rapidly expanded in Asia, the Americas, and in the European continent. Biomass fuels including bagasse, biodiesel, and bioethanol are used to burn cooking stoves and combustion engines. Plants are used in as bioreactors for the production of antibodies, proteins, peptides, and vaccines. The concept of biopharming has been accepted universally and is considered a competitive way to produce many chemical compounds that are used as raw materials for chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Plant biotechnology has occupied the center stage in various fields that involve in the production of biogas; bioremediation; organic farming; and integrative medicines. Plant biotechnology, along with recombinant DNA technology and biology strategies, has led the genetic information to be used in targeted manner.
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