The following points highlight the top five branches of biotechnology. The branches are: 1. Animal Biotechnology 2. Medical Biotechnology 3. Industrial Biotechnology 4. Environmental Biotechnology 5. Plant Biotechnology.
Branch # 1. Animal Biotechnology:
It deals with development of transgenic animals for increased milk or meat production with resistance to various diseases. It also deals with in vitro fertilization and transfer of embryo in animals including man.
Branch # 2. Medical Biotechnology:
It deals with diagnosis of various diseases; large scale production of various drugs and hormones such as human insulin and interferon; vaccines for chicken pox, rabies, polio etc.; and growth hormones such as bovine. In the field of medical science, genetic engineering has helped in the large scale production of hormones, blood serum proteins; in the development of antibiotics, and other medically useful products.
Branch # 3. Industrial Biotechnology:
It deals with commercial production of various useful organic substances such as acetic acid, citric acid, acetone, glycerine, etc., and antibiotics like penicillin, streptomycin, mitomycin, etc. through the use of microorganisms especially fungi and bacteria.
Branch # 4. Environmental Biotechnology:
It deals with detoxification of waste and industrial effluents, treatment of sewage water, and control of plant diseases and insects through the use of biological agents such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.
Branch # 5. Plant Biotechnology:
Plant biotechnology is a combination of tissue culture and genetic engineering. It deals with development of transgenic plants with resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses; development of haploids, embryo rescue, clonal multiplication, cryopreservation, etc.
The main features of plant biotechnology are briefly presented below:
i. Plant biotechnology consists of the application of two basic techniques, viz:
(a) Tissue culture, and
(b) Recombinant DNA technology or genetic engineering.
ii. It bypasses sexual process in the development of new crop cultivars.
iii. It makes distant crosses (interspecific and inter generic) practically feasible.
iv. It helps in the development of transgenic plants (plants with foreign DNA) with resistance to biotic stresses.
v. It is a rapid method of crop improvement. For example, tetraploid plants can be developed in a single step through protoplast fusion.