What is biotechnology? Genetic Engineering?
Biological or Genetic Engineering is when you apply engineering principles to biological systems in order to solve problems. Problems may involve sustainable food, materials, energy, and health. The engineered organisms or the products they are engineered to create are considered a technology - biotechnology.
*This topic is covered in depth in Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero: The beginner’s guide to programming bacteria at home, school & in the makerspace*
Bacteria are living organisms. But bacteria can also be thought of as miniature factories... microfactories - and their DNA is their blueprint.
You do genetic engineering when you change the DNA within the bacteria and then the bacteria reads that DNA blueprint change and "does what it says". Im many cases during genetic engineering, you tell the bacteria (through changing its DNA), to create something for you. Each bacterium then produces a small quantity of the thing. But when bacteria are grown in large containers so that trillions of cells can grow and read the DNA blueprints, they create significant amounts of the thing - such as colour pigments, detergents, medicines, plastics, papers, fragrances, and a lot more. The bacteria are then broken open and the engineered products are collected.
Because bacteria multiply rapidly and easily when fed simple sugars in controlled environments, they are a powerful, sustainable, and safe way for manufacturing things.
Thanks to the hard work of scientists around the world, programming DNA is improving our quality of life and keeping diseases at bay. Already in the hands of hundreds of millions of people each day, the number of genetically engineered products will continue to rise in the future.
In fact, you too can program bacteria! Amino Labs Kits have everything you need to bioengineer for the first time or the hundredth! With a complex topic like genetic engineering, the best way to understand what is really is, is to learn through doing - by reading about genetic engineering on the internet you will barely scratch the surface.
Learning and prototyping with genetic engineering and cells is starting to become accessible to newcomers of all ages and backgrounds thanks to dedicated scientists and kits such as the ones on our website. The easiest way to learn a new science, hobby or topic is by trying it, hands-on!
But we understand learning a new topic can be daunting; that is why we have created an important software addition to our ecosystem - Virtual Bioengineer™ simulation. Developed with the educators at the Biobuilder Educational Foundation, it is a free 20 minutes guided experience that replicates the hands-on procedures you would complete with your Amino Labs system, or any similar lab equipment.
You can also take an online hands-on genetic engineering course.
By getting hands-on experience with genetic engineering and biotechnology, you will become immersed in some of the most cutting-edge science of the 21st century.