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Sunday, 31 December 2017

Why hepatitis A and E virus become violent in the environment?

12/31/2017
Pakistan is the 6th most populous country which have high infection rates and shows the prevalence of hepatitis A and E in the common population.  Since, Pakistan is a lower middle income country, the detection methods are not reliable for the confirmation of viruses. The molecular detection of HAV and HEV by using Polymerase chain reaction from different water sources confirmed the isolation of hepatic viruses in water and sewage samples. But due to low prevalence of hepatitis viruses in the water, maximum samples showed negative results and drinking water found to be fit on the standards of the WHO.



Hepatitis A and hepatitis E virus are highly prevalent in Pakistan and present as sporadic disease. Traditionally, both viral infections based on the detection of nucleic acid by using polymerase chain reaction. Hepatitis A and E viruses are the enteroviruses, which are significantly distinct from other enteroviruses on the basis of genome organization, heat stability, replication and behavior in the cell culture. The viruses transferred by fecal-oral route and causes many endemic and epidemic infections. Waterborne diseases of hepatitis A and E have been reported in many underdeveloped and developed countries. The aim of this study is to detect the hepatitis A and E virus from the water bodies. Sewage and drinking samples were qualitatively analyzed by using PCR technique in which specific primers were used for the amplification of viruses.

Water is used for domestic consumption, irrigation, and recreation. Unconventionally, water value is very imperative for human health in under-developed countries and developed countries. World health organization (WHO) guiding principles involves the quality of water which highlight the use of clean water, void of viruses and parasites which contain water and  supplied to different sources. Frequently, human diseases include acute infections of the intestines and stomach. Polish legislation and law do not take attention of detecting viruses from different sources of water, used for irrigation and recreation purposes. Many viruses and pathogens responsible for causing infections and diseases of digestive system includes human adenoviruses, rotaviruses, astroviruses and calciviruses. Mostly, enteroviruses cause diseases leading towards death. Some viral diseases cause serious impediments such as inflammation of heart muscles, meninges, brain, respiratory disorders and acute liver failure. Excreta mixed in the solid waste and sewage water, which can create problems of meltwater surfaces. 

However, these viruses contaminate different crops, drinking water and other water reservoirs (Hryniszyn et al., 2013). Hepatitis E virus is a non-enveloped and small RNA virus which causes acute hepatitis in humans. HEV is proof against chemical reagents, detergents in addition to freezing conditions. Their course of transmission is connected with the consumption of contaminated meals, drinks, drinking water and sea foods. Hepatitis A and E outbreaks, specially took place in growing countries where sanitation device isn't right. Both viruses do no longer reflect in meals and water and look ahead to the proper host system for replication. So, smidgens of viral contaminants are difficult to isolate (Fong et al., 2005).



Microbial water contamination always remains an important issue of worldwide concern, poor sanitation and deficiency of pure water are the main key risk aspects of morbidity and mortality which includes diarrheal diseases in the developing countries. A current report by WHO/UNICEF joint monitoring program for water, sanitation and supply showed that eight hundred and eighty four billion individuals do not get safe drinking water in the developing regions of the world. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for the third country in that list. This study also discloses that 95.5% people live in those rural areas where sanitation is not proper and safe drinking water is not available and 37% not using pure water for drinking purposes in the Sub-Saharan Africa. The South Africa is a semi arid and water stressed country for recreational and agriculture purposes.

So, water surfaces are  easily contaminated with the fecal contamination. Hepatitis A virus, which is 27nm to 32nm in diameter, single stranded, small and non-enveloped virus and belongs to the genus Heptovirus which is the etiological agent of the HAV in South Africa. Along with  HAV, some other viruses also contaminate the surface of the water in which Rotavirus, Poliovirus, Enterovirus, Astroviruses and Hepatitis E viruses are more common. Rotavirus is double stranded, non-enveloped RNA virus and causes severe diarrhea among young children and infants.

Maintenance of microbial safety and quality of water from estuarine used as shrimp refinement, which is imperious, the impurity of these water sources may produces impact on its microbiological quality resulting in substantial economic losses due to the restriction on the export (Carter 2005). In the world production, there is fifth place which occupies by the Mexican shrimp industry. In 2003, the national shrimp fisheries produces 86,111 t up to 109,685 t which are harvested in the Pacific Ocean. This is the most productive and largest coastal system which is dedicated to shrimp cultivation in the Huizache Caimanero Lagunary Complex (HCLC)  situated in the northwest state of Sinaloa (Rejon et al., 2002).

About 611,000 deaths were reported from the infection of Rotavirus per year worldwide and half of the deaths of this estimated report occur in South Africa. However, Polioviruses, Astroviruses, and hepatitis E viruses also causes many water borne infection throughout the world. All these viruses are RNA viruses and have been detected from water sources globally (Chigor and Okoh, 2012). The waterborne and food and waterborne viral diseases are considered as the foremost issue of sickness in humans. Mostly, water and food contamination by viral particles is not perceived easily due to the absence of suitable detection techniques or inaccessibility of incriminating foodstuff and water samples. Mostly, viruses are transmissible via food and water are investigated from the fecal-oral route. Diseased handlers are recognized as a foremost source of infection of prepared food and ready to cook (Saira et al., 2002).

The sewage sludge and wastewater are used for agricultural purposes such as fertilization and irrigation, which are also considered as possible sources of viral contamination in crops. Hepatic viruses and enteric viruses persevere in the water surrounding  for an extensive time and highly resistant to heat, pressure, disinfectant and temperature (Koopmans et al., 2002: Metcalf et al., 1979). If the viruses are intracellular parasite and does not reproduce outside the host, but this is not the safe sight of the product Only viral infectious particle is required to prompt the diseases (Guevremont et al., 2006: Sair et al., 2002).

Estuarine contaminated water with nonhuman and human feces are regarded as a greater risk for human health generally, because they contain human enteric viruses (Fong and Lipp 2005). Other shellfish and shrimp can also contaminate the water with viral pathogen such HAV and HEV while growing in estuarine water (Morga et al., 2009).

When channel lines are close to sewage channels, there is a probability of contaminations which results in any disease caused due to viruses in these communities. So, both HAV and HEV viruses are transmitted via oral-fecal route. Viruses are not found in tap water, but there is a high prevalence of viruses in sewage water. None of the samples showed positive results for HEV and HAV, but both viruses may pose a serious threat via direct contamination of water and food through hands. Both viruses affect adult population, all cases were reported due to unhygienic conditions and poor sanitary management (Prado et al., 2012).

HEV also detected from the stool samples in which HEV is reported in patients having an extent of fecal molting, which usually range from 9 to 12 days (Clayson et al., 1995).

Conclusion

In the Pakistan, people mostly live in urban areas having indistinctly populated divisions and congested colonies. Poor maintenance, open sanitation systems, the discarding of compost at public spaces and close propinquity of water supply lines or through the sewage system which results in high contamination of drinking water supplier and become a high risk of leakage. I examined the detection methods of HAV and HEV from open spaces that pose a severe threat to pregnant women and infants. This is the precarious assessment to maintain the viral contamination. The change in travel habits, living style and working conditions may contribute to change the global disease burden on Pakistan.

Reference

Clayson ET, KSA Myint, R Snitbhan R et al., 1995. Viremia, fecal shedding and IgM and IgA    response in patients with hepatitis E. J Infect Dis, 172: 927-33.

Chigor VN and AI Okoh, 2012.Quantitative RT-PCR Detection of Hepatitis A Virus,      Rotaviruses and Enteroviruses in the Buffalo River and Source Water Dams in the   Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 9:4017-4032.

Carter MJ 2005. Enterically infecting viruses: pathogenicity, transmission and significance for      food and waterborne infection. J ApplMicrobiol, 98:1354–1380.

Fong TT and EK Lipp 2005. Enteric viruses of humans and animals in aquatic environments:        health risks, detection, and potential water quality assessment tools. Microbiol Mol Biol            Rev 69:357–37.

Prado T, TM Fumian, MP Miagostovich and AMC Gaspar, 2012.Monitoring the hepatitis A         virus in urban wastewater from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg,            106 (2):104–9.

Sair AI, D Souza, DH Moe, C.L and Jaykus, LA 2002.Improved detection of human enteric        viruses in foods by RT-PCR. J Virol Methods, 100:57–69.

Guevremont E, J Brassard, AHoude et al., 2006. Development of an Extraction and          Concentration Procedure and Comparison of RtPcr Primer Systems for the Detection of   Hepatitis a Virus and NorovirusGii in Green Onions. Journal of virological methods,      134:130-135.

Koopmans C, KR Pelletier, JF Murray et al., 2002. Stanford Presenteeism Scale: health status       and Employee productivity. J occup Environ Med, 44:14-20.

Metcalf TG, B Mullin, D Eckerson, E Moulton E and EP Larkin 1979.Bioaccumulation and         depuration of enteroviruses by the soft shelled clam, Myaarenaria. Appl. Environ.        Microbiol, 38: 275-282.

Rejon Z, MJA Sanchez, and EA Chavez 2002.Trophic structure and flows of energy in the           Huizache-Caimanero lagoon complex on the Pacific coast of Mexico.Estuar Coast Shelf,       Sci 57:803–815.



About Author:
Qamar Majeed
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad-38040, Pakistan

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Root rot of peas

11/09/2017
Root rot is a major threat to the pea crop in all over the world. It causes major losses than any other disease. In wet season it causes more damage, optimum temperature for disease development is 15-30˚C or above and moisture content is 30% or more. (Hossain, 2013).



There is no resistant variety of root rot but some breeding lines may have tolerance to some extent. Well drained soils suffer less crop damage than poorly drained soils. In the beginning it present in the form of patches then spread all over the field. It is hard to distinguish root rot from wilt disease. The plants effected by root rot can be easily removed from soil than wilted plants. As in case of wilt, roots are not much damaged. Root rot is a complex disease and its severity is increased by stunting growth, Pythium species, lesions and presence of nematode in root zone (Rots & Pea, 2002).



There are 20 different pathogens involve in this disease some of them cause more damage to the crop, for example Fussarium oxysporum, Pythium spp.and Fussarium solani. The cell wall of disease causing fungi is made up of cellulose that’s why it is not a factual fungus because in fungi the cell wall is made up of chitin.
Symptoms:
        Root rot attack on plant at different stages i.e. pre and post emergence of seedling. If it attacks at early stage, death may occur. At the start of disease the lower stem and roots become water saturated. These parts become brown and disease spreads all over the plant. Above ground part of plant shows poor appearance, damping off, yellowing of leaves, poor establishing,  falling of mature leaves and poor yield. Roots shows discoloration and stunted growth. 
Cover crops can also be used as a preventive measure. So we can use brassica as a cover crop because it contain glucosinolates (GSL’s) and some products of glucosinolate have preventive effects for many soil borne pathogens.(Hossain, 2013)
 
Root rot is a soil borne disease, its pathogen can live for many years in soil with or without the presence of the host. And it is very difficult to manage this disease due to its long life span.
If less compaction of soil, plant will gain more nutrients ,support , good aeration and moisture from soil through roots (Scott, 1984)



Due the presence of these pathogens root growth of plant is stopped which results in low availability of the water and nutrients to the plant so, plant show stunt growth and few filled pods. If the environment favor this disease it causes failure of whole crop. Pea is major crop grown in Kashmir with the frequency of 15 to 65% root rot disease (Hamid, Bhat, Sofi, Bhat, & Asif, 2012).


aWhen the diseased plant pulled out only tap root intact but sometimes taproot may also be infected. Due to root rot the quality of seed is reduced. Diseased plant produces peas having asymmetrical sizes, low sugar contents and non-synchronized maturity. 

        As pea is a leguminous crop and nodules are present in its roots that enhance soil fertility by nitrogen fixation. But root rot disturbs this process. The total biomass of plant and yield is reduced.(Chatterton, Bowness, Chang, Agriculture, & Development, n.d.) 

Management : 

There are many fungicides are present that can be used to manage this disease but these fungicides are very costly and have different dangerous effects on crop product, plant health and soil. And also kill many soil microorganism that are beneficial to plants. So this is a difficult task to manage disease with fungicides. Integrated management approach is considered best for the disease control.(Abawi, Ludwig, Motkan, & Pathology, n.d.) 

If we examine stunted plants in field or plants with yellow leaves, we should pulled them out and clean the soil.  Cultural practices should be done to avoid this disease.  To avoid the disease we should use good quality, disease free and fungicide treated seed.  Soil compaction should be less. In clay soil, more compaction so more chances of disease than silt loam. (“Saprolegnia megasperma,” 1968)  
  
   
References: 


Abawi, G. S., Ludwig, J. W., Motkan, K., & Pathology, P. (n.d.). Fusarium solani, 1–4. 
Chatterton, S., Bowness, R., Chang, F., Agriculture, A., & Development, R. (n.d.). and future research opportunities Dry field peas. 
Hamid, A., Bhat, N. A., Sofi, T. A., Bhat, K. A., & Asif, M. (2012). Management of root rot of pea ( Pisum sativum L .) through bioagents, 6(44), 7156–7161. http://doi.org/10.5897/AJMR12.565 
Hossain, S. (2013). Impact of Brassicaceae Cover Crops on Pea Root Rot ( Aphanomyces euteiches ) in Subsequent Peas. 
Rots, R., & Pea, O. F. (2002). Plant disease, (911). 
Saprolegnia megasperma. (1968), (1925), 364–387. 
Scott, R. E. (1984). Paper 9 ROOT ROT AND SOIL COMPACTION PROBLEMS OF PEA CROPS.  






About Author:
Ishrat Shafique
MSc.(Hons.) PB&G
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad-38040, Pakistan

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Impact of irrigation with industrial treated wastewater on soil properties

8/30/2017
In large cities of developing countries, food demand is partially supplied by urban agriculture performed by smallholders involved in market-oriented farming. Although considered as an informal economy, urban agriculture generates significant incomes for the underprivileged part of the population, i.e. women and unemployed young people. However, urban farming is highly dependent on water availability.



Water availability is the main limiting factor for urban agriculture in arid and semi-arid regions. Such a problem is mostly seen in countries like sub-Saharan Africa where priority is given to industrial wastewater consumption. Large amounts of wastewater from household and industrial activities are discharged in water channels. Such effluents are rarely subject to suitable treatment and so they remain the only sustainable water resource available for farmers. There is no doubt that irrigation with wastewater increases the yield in agriculture as compared to irrigation with fresh water. This actually happens due to supply of essential nutrients like N, P & K present in wastewater.

Wastewater also contains heavy metals in greater amounts, so that it does not meet the quality criteria for irrigation water and imparts adverse effects on soil properties and quality. Main adverse impacts are soil salinization, sodication/alkalinization and structural changes which may result in dramatic yield increase. Soil sodication is associated with rise in soil pH which causes N, P, K & Zn deficiencies and formation of black alkali on surface of soil due to dissolution of organic matter. It may also result in clay dispersion. The black alkali is an indicator of soil alkalinization and it shows irreversible degradation of soil because organic matter is lost resulting in depletion of soil fertility.

According to Abbott and Hasnip (1997), Water with RAcalcite > 2.5 mmolcl-1 and EC < 4000µS cm-1 values (alkali water) may pose a threat to soil structure due to high amount of sodium. Irrigation with such wastewater changes the soil properties. Sodication induces dispersion of clay particles and a collapse of structural pores which causes obstruction of pores in subsurface horizon. Irrigation with wastewater also results in increase of bulk density and dramatic decrease in structural porosity.

Other causes, such as biological clogging due to the production of poly-saccharide and other organic compounds or physical clogging by suspended solids may be discarded in our situation, considering the relative small values of total suspended solids (205±157 mg l-1) and biological oxygen demand (107±50 mg l-1) of the effluent. Up to now, most studies about wastewater impacts on soil were limited to properties such as infiltration rate and hydraulic conductivity. The present study confirms a risk of strong degradation of hydro-structural properties when a soil is irrigated with alkaline and sodic wastewater, resulting in a dramatic decrease of soil fertility.



Conclusion:

Highly sodic and alkaline industrial effluents stemming from a microphyte sewage treatment plant used for irrigation led to quick soil structure collapse. As a result, dark deposits appeared at the soil surface of soils irrigated with wastewater. Chemical analysis clearly showed sodium and bicarbonates accumulation and pH increase to alkaline values in the topsoil of soil irrigated with wastewater. Physical analysis exhibited structural pore network of the soil collapsed dramatically, resulting in compact layers with poor water storage. Dissolution of organic matter leads to formation of black alkali at soil surface. It results in 50% decrease in yield.





About Author:
Miss Bushra Niamat
Institute of Soil & Environmental Sciences,
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad-38040, Pakistan

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Tomato Leaf Curl Virus disease in Pakistan and its management; A Review

8/09/2017
Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) belongs to Solanaceae family is an important short duration vegetable crop attacked by many pathogenic diseases. TLCVD is most important which damage the crop very badly and affect the fruit quality and quantity badly. This disease is due to a complex of viruses which are transmitted through the whitefly. To manage the disease control of its vector is very important which is done by using different approaches. Management of TLCVD and B. tabaci through plants extracts, nutrients and insecticides are useful. Climatic conditions helps in development of disease as well as in management of disease. The management of this disease is very important due to the importance of this crop.




History and geographical distribution:

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) belongs to Solanaceae family which also contain some other important crops such as potato, tobacco, eggplant and peppers. Tomato was originated from Latin America and spread throughout the world as vegetable crop. Tomatoes are very important due to short duration crop contributing a healthy diet by providing rich amount of minerals, essential amino acids, sugars, fibers etc. (Glick et al., 2009). A number of biotic and abiotic factors affect the quantity and quality of tomato fruit. Among the pathogenic diseases the viral diseases are most important. Tomato leaf curl virus is a serious threat to this crop. Basically it is a complex of viruses. This complex of viruses in Pakistan, India and Australia region is known as TLCV (tomato leaf curl virus) and in Israel and Europe region called as TYLCV (tomato yellow leaf curl virus (Pandey et al., 2009). TYLCV was reported firstly in Israel region in 1920 which appear in epidemic form in 1960 (Glick et al., 2009).

Symptomology and host range of TLCVD:



TLCVD affected plant show a number of symptoms which are reduction in leaf area as well as leaf size, stunted growth, puckering of leaf, upward curling, vein clearing, abnormal shoot proliferation, deformation of leaflets and reduction in yield quantity as well as quality. Tomato is the primary host of this disease. Some other plants are also acts as its host are bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflourm) and petunia (Petunia hybrid) are also host plants of TYLCV. Some weeds including Cleome viscose (Caparidaceae) as well as Carton lobatus (Euphorbiaceae) are also susceptible against TYLCV but no disease symptoms are produce (Kurata et al., 2016).




Pathogen vector relationship:

Bemisia tabaci (whitefly) is a most important insect pest which harm the tomato plants by direct feeding and by transmitting the viral pathogen from diseased plant to healthy plant. Social and economics studied show that the farmer can gain up to 10 times more profit by growing resistant tomato against whitefly (Colvin et al., 2012).

Management of TLCVD and B. tabaci:

To manage this disease the control of insect pest vector is very important which is done by different methods. A few of them are as fallow

  • Management through plant extracts:

Chemical control method is the major method for the management of insect pest but it become less effective due to resistance develop in insect pest against the insecticides (Siebert et al., 2012). B. tabaci adults, nymphs and eggs are found resistant against the chemicals so plant extracts are used. As the chemical control of insect pest is costly so the plant extracts are more effective than the chemicals. Foliar spray of Neem (azadairachtin) and neem plus can kill the eggs, nymphs and adults of B. tabaci. Ethanolic and aqueous extracts of Annona squamosal, Carlowrightia myriantha, Trichillia arborea, Azadirachta indica and Acalypha gaumeri are effective against B. tabaci population. Neem oil, garlic and eucalyptus extract give significant result against this disease (Khan et al., 2013).

  • Management through insecticides:

The chemical control method is easy and most commonly used approach against the insect pest. A number of insecticides are used. Among them imidacloprid, acetamiprid, nitenpyram, thiamethoxam and diafenthiuron give significant result against aphids, whiteflies and other insect pests (Bacci et al., 2007). The comparative efficacy of these insecticides show significant result against this disease. These chemicals are very effective against the B. tabaci and TLCVD (Zeshan et al., 2015).

  • Management through nutrients and systemic acquired resistance:

Plant health play an important role the management of a disease. Nutrients play an important role in plant health which enable the plants to fights against the chewing type insects. Therefore the nutrients (N, P, K, Zn, and B) are very important in crop health and these nutrients were evaluated. The application of micro and macro elements can affect the relationship between the insect pest and plants. Studied shows that Zinc improve the defense system of plants. Plants with higher amount of N, P, K, and B give significant result against the disease. Some of these nutrients act as cofactor in enzyme activation (Maathuis et al., 2009).

Conclusion:

Tomato is cultivated in Pakistan and India also in other countries of Asia as well as throughout the world due to its high nutritional value and short duration crop. A number of biotic and abiotic factors affect the quantity and quality of tomato crop. Among the viral diseases TLCVD is very important which is a serious threat to tomato crop. To manage this disease it is very important to control its vector first. For this purpose a number of approaches are used which includes the management through plant extracts, through the nutrients and through the insecticides. Cultural practices, removal of host plant, vector control and crop rotation are also useful approaches against the disease.

References:

Bacci, L., A.L. Crespo, T.L. Galvan, E.J. Pereira, M.C. Picanço, G.A. Silva and M. Chediak. 2007. Toxicity of insecticides to the sweetpotato whitefly (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) and its natural enemies. Pest manage. Sci. 63(7): 699-706.
Colvin, J., N. Nagaraju, C. Moreno-Leguizamon, R. Govindappa, T.M. Reddy, S. Padmaja, N. Joshi, P.M. Hanson, S.E. Seal and V. Muniyappa. 2012. Socio-economic and scientific impact created by whitefly-transmitted, plant-virus disease resistant tomato varieties in southern India. J. Integrat. Agric. 11(2): 337-345.
Glick, E., Y. Levy and Y. Gafni. 2009. The Viral Etiology of Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Disease. Plant Protect. Sci., 45(3): 81-97.
Khan, M.H., N. Ahmad, S. Rashdi, I. Rauf, M. Ismail and M. Tofique. 2013. Management of sucking complex in bt cotton through the application of different plant products. Pak. J. Life Sci, 1(01): 42-48.
Kurata, A., A. Fujiwara, N. Haruyama and T. Tsuchida. 2016. Multiplex PCR method for rapid identification of genetic group and symbiont infection status in Bemisia tabaci (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae). J. Appl. Entomol. Zoo. 51(1): 167-172.
Maathuis, F.J. 2009. Physiological functions of mineral macronutrients. Current opinion in plant biology, 12(3): 250-258.
Pandey, P., N.R. Choudhury and S.K. Mukherjee. 2009. A geminiviral amplicon (VA) derived from tomato leaf curl virus (ToLCV) can replicate in a wide variety of plant species and also acts as a VIGS vector. J. Virol. 6(1): 152.
Siebert, M. W., J.D. Thomas, S.P. Nolting, B.R. Leonard, J. Gore, A. Catchot, G.M. Lorenz, S.D. Stewart, D.R. Cook, L.C. Walton, R.B. Lassiter, R.A. Haygood and J.D. Siebert. 2012. Field Evaluations of sulfoxaflor: a novel insecticide against tarnished plant bug (Hemiptera: Miridae) in cotton. J. Cotton Sci. 16:129–143.

Zeshan, M.A., M.A. Khan, S. Ali and M. Arshad. 2015. Correlation of conducive environmental conditions for the development of whitefly, Bemisia tabaci population in different tomato genotypes. J. Zool. 47(6): 1511-1515.







About Author:
Muhammad Jahanzaib
Department of Plant Pathology
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad-38040, Pakistan

Friday, 14 July 2017

THE MAGIC OF BIOTECHNOLOGY

7/14/2017
The word biotechnology brings into our minds and imagery whereby scientists are busy isolating gene fragments, DNA pieces and fitting them together like a jig-saw puzzle and then inserting them into an organism to get a novel product. While this may be true for genetic engineering, which happens to be a small branch of the subjects, biotechnology in essence is a field much broader than we can imagine.



One of the many facts of biotechnology is the field of bioinformatics. To a layman, it can be explained as the use of computational technology to further enhance our knowledge and approximate ideas about biological material based on its properties, which may not be identified experimentally. For instance, the soft wares developed today can assist in telling us whether a protein will be kept inside the cell or exported outside on the basis of simply the primary sequence of the protein. Similarly, the binding capacity of proteins to other molecules and the position of binding can be visualized using computational techniques. This is a very important tool in drug delivery since it helps to design target specific drugs that can be used to cure fatal diseases like dengue fever and AIDS.


An emerging sub-field of biotechnology in this regard is that of pharmaco-genomics which is also referred to as personalized medicine. This involves the use of drugs for treatment according to the genetic characteristics of patients so as to avoid any complications that may arise as a result of allergic reactions as well as to ensure maximum efficacy of the drug. This is particularly helpful in the treatment of diseases like cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis and cardiovascular disease.

The branch of biotechnology known as, medical biotechnology also aims to find a cure to human suffering and to reduce the potential risk of diseases. While this includes the discovery and use of penicillin that happened centuries ago, and the production of recombinant insulin that originated in the last few decades, medical biotechnology has much more to offer. It deals with the designing of drugs as well as with methods to cure the disease by exploiting the natural body mechanism for it. Tissue grafting, organ transplantation, antibody engineering, vaccine production and many such breakthroughs are a reality in the world today, only because of this field of biotechnology.

Another aspect that governs life and health in particular is the environment and biotechnology with it claim to benefit human life, takes care of this aspect as well. Bio-remediation caters to removal of toxic compounds from soil, water and air using microorganisms or plants. This mechanism of removal exists naturally in some plants and microorganisms. 

Biotechnology has further enhanced the ability of these indigenous life forms to clean the environment. Heavy metals, chlorofluorocarbons, oils and harmful radioactive compounds are among the few toxic materials that can be removed using bio-remediation, and this is by no means that only way biotechnology is helping to clean the environment. The designing of cleaner fuels such as bio-diesel and bio-ethanol is the first step towards reducing the pollution resulting from the use of fuels including petroleum products. The best part is that contrary to the common thought, the production of these fuels, for instance bio-gas, is cheap and can be done in a very easy set up.

Fermentation technology is one of the oldest branches of biotechnology. From enzymes used in detergents, to yeast used in bread making, this one aspect of biotechnology has benefited mankind for centuries. Even this aspect has undergone modification over time making it easy to recover products based on their properties. Affinity chromatography, ion exchange chromatography and size exclusion chromatography are among the few techniques that are used to purify the proteins and enzymes produced by fermentation.

These are thousands of other uses of biotechnology with practical applications that are being used globally to enhance healthcare, disease prevention, clean the environment, increase food safety, and provide safe, purified products. So, it is about time that we get rid of approach towards biotechnology thinking that it only deals with genetic engineering and open our minds and eyes to the magic this field has created around us.


Since the last two decades, the dengue incidences have been increased rapidly which has brought many groups including: The Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative (funded by Bill and Melinda Gates foundation), the WHO, the US military, as well as industry and governments in many different countries to collaborate together in the hopes of accelerating the development of a successful vaccine. With our better understanding of the virus particle several vaccine candidates are now showing promise in clinical studies, with the most advanced candidate having phase 3 testing.





About Author:
Miss Ayesha Maqbool
Department of Microbiology,
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad-38040, Pakistan

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