Read this essay to learn about Biotechnology. After reading this essay you will learn about: 1. Definition of Biotechnology 2. Traditional and Modern Biotechnology 3. Advancement of Biotechnology 4. Applications 5. Scope 6. Biotechnology in India 7. Gene Therapy 8. Genetic Counseling 9. Bio Fertilizers and 10. Gene Bank.
Essay on Biotechnology Contents:
- Essay on the Definition of Biotechnology
- Essay on the Traditional and Modern Biotechnology
- Essay on the Advancement of Biotechnology
- Essay on the Applications of Biotechnology
- Essay on the Scope of Biotechnology
- Essay on the Biotechnology in India
- Essay on the Gene Therapy
- Essay on the Genetic Counseling
- Essay on the Bio Fertilizers
- Essay on the Gene Bank
Essay # 1. Definition of Biotechnology:
Biotechnology is a term which is a combination of two individual terms: Biology and Technology. As the name suggests “It is the assembly of technology in science of biology”.
Most simply it may be defined as:
“The regulated and controlled use of the biological agents for the manufacture of useful products or for generating beneficial services”.
These biological agents may be microorganisms, animals or plants or their cellular components. However, it is not easy to define biotechnology in a single sentence because of its wide and multidisciplinary applications. Various definitions have been given by different scientific organisations. One of such standard definition as given by the ‘European Federation of Biotechnology’ is as follows:
Biotechnology is the integrated use of biochemistry, microbiology and engineering sciences in order to achieve technological applications of the capabilities of microorganisms, cultured cells/tissues and parts thereof.
U.S. National Science Federation says that “Biotechnology is the controlled use of biological agents such as microorganisms or cellular components for beneficial use.”
According to IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry), biotechnology means “the application of biochemistry, biology, microbiology and chemical engineering to industrial processes and products and on environment.”
Essay # 2. Traditional and Modern Biotechnology:
The art of biotechnology is very old. It is as old as human civilization. It actually began when man started the domestication of useful plants and animals and started utilizing microbes for making various beverages (like wine, beer), curd, vinegar, etc.
Alcohol was probably the first product of ancient biotechnology. Such practices which have been in vogue since long by our ancestors and are being used even today are included in the traditional biotechnology. Such practices are very common in day-to-day life and are also used in normal kitchen technology, i.e., while preparing idli, dhokla, cheese, curd, etc.
With the advancement of science and technology, advent of new analytical instruments and recent progress in the field of microbiology, molecular biology, etc. it has become possible for us to discover or improve better strains of microbes for commercial production. This all comprises the modern biotechnology. In simple words we may also differentiate between traditional (old) and modern (new) biotechnology.
It is as follows:
Old Biotechnology is the one which involves the exploitation and utilization of natural capabilities of microbes or cellular components for manufacture of useful products or for services.
New Biotechnology involves the use of recombinant DNA technology, enzyme engineering, genetic engineering practices, etc., for developing newer or improved capabilities of biological agents for production of beneficial services or products.
Essay # 3. Advancement of Biotechnology:
This branch of biology is in use by mankind since very long. Numerous important achievements and advancements have been made by many eminent workers for this discipline.
A few of such important contributions by various workers in the field of biotechnology are enlisted below:
Biotechnology as a Multidisciplinary Activity:
Biotechnology is truly multidisciplinary (or interdisciplinary) in nature and it encompasses several disciplines of basic sciences and engineering. The science disciplines from which biotechnology draws heavily are Microbiology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Immunology, Tissue Culture and Physiology.
Recent advancements have led to a multidisciplinary’ applicability of biotechnology. Various areas in which this discipline is very frequently used on large scale are: agriculture, food and beverage industry, environment, medicines, energy and fuels, enzyme technology, waste utilization, biodiversity conservation, etc. (Fig. 1).
Biotechnology has great impact in areas like Environment, Bioinformatics, Genomics Proteomics and Human Genome Project (HGP).
Essay # 4. Applications of Biotechnology:
Biotechnology is such a branch of science which has advanced rapidly and has emerged as a potential science for providing benefits in all the fields of human welfare. It has a great impact in almost all the domains of human life, may it be health, environment, foods or agriculture. Recent advancements have led to a multidisciplinary applicability of biotechnology.
Various areas in which this discipline is very frequently used on a large scale are as follows:
2. Food and Beverage Industry
4. Health care and Medicines
5. Energy and Fuels.
6. Enzymes and Biochemical.
7. Other Industrial applications.
8. Forensic cases
9. Conservation of Nature
1. Biotechnology in Agriculture:
Agricultural biotechnology is supposed to be the answer to a hungry world’s food supply. The applications of biotechnology in agriculture rank second (first being in medicines). Biotechnological approaches are used valuably in the fields of horticulture and floriculture also.
Major applicability’s of biotechnology in the field of agriculture and horticulture are: Manufacture of Bio fertilizers which prove to be more beneficial than other synthetic and chemical fertilizers. Bio fertilizers are cost effective, harmless for plants and they also increase soil fertility.
The Nitrogen-fixation and assimilation efficiency of the crops are also being increased by the practices like cloning of nif (nitrogen fixing) genes or by transferring such genes Production of Transgenic plants or Genetically Modified plants (GMP) – The plants whose genome has been modified by introduction of foreign gene(s) of an unrelated organism, are called transgenic plants or GMPs e.g. Br cotton, Flavr Savr Tomato, golden Rice, etc.
The transgenic plants may provide one or more characteristics of the following:
(a) Resistance to insects, fungi, bacteria and virus
(b) Highly resistant to herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals.
(c) Drought, resistance, flood resistance, Salinity resistance, etc.
(d) High productivity.
(e) Crop plants with improved quality.
Plant Tissue Culture:
It aims at the in-vitro culture of plants. It is very beneficial for agriculture.
This is evident by the following points:
(a) Clonal propagation helps in rapid production of commercially important plants and trees like timber trees, ornamental plants, orchids, fruits, rubber plants, etc.
(b) Production of somatic hybrids by hybridization of protoplasts compatible plant species. Such somatic hybrids have characters of both umelated species.
(c) Production of artificial seeds, etc.
2. Biotechnology in Food and Beverage Industry:
A number of microorganisms are Used beneficially in the production of certain foods and beverages like cheese, wine curd beer, vinegar, etc. The underlying process behind such productions is fermentation Natural fermentation has played a vital role in human development and it is the oldest form of production of wine.
Fermentation may be defined as the process which involves the biochemical activity of microorganisms to produce an economically important product like food, beverages or pharmaceuticals. In other words, it is the use of microorganisms for production of commercial products. Natural fermentation is the part of traditional biotechnology.
Several modifications are also done in the genome of microbes by gene transfer methods to achieve better results and this is involved in modern biotechnology. The fermentation may be performed by yeasts, bacteria, molds or by combination of these organisms.
Yeasts are of primary importance in manufacture of bread, beer, wine and distilled liquors. Molds are important in the preparation of some cheeses and oriental foods A few fermented products are listed below along with the substrate name and the name of microorganism involved:
Liquors or spirits of interest produced by distillation of an alcohohcally fermented product.
(a) Rum-Distillate from alcoholically fermented sugarcane juice or molasses
(b) Whiskey—Distillate from fermented grain mashes
(c) Brandy—Distillate from wine
(d) Gin—Distillate from fermented rye malt.
Single Cell Proteins (SCP):
It is the term which designates the high protein food from microorganisms like algae, filamentous fungi, bacteria and yeast. Genetic engineering is used to select and produce the high protein content or desirable composition of food by improving the microbial strains. SCP is, actually, the total microbial biomass which is free from any type of toxins and contaminants.
It is high in protein content so it can be used to replace the conventional vegetable and animal protein sources. Bio technological approaches have been in use for the mass-cultivation of SCP by improving the source microorganisms.
Some such microbial sources are:
Chlorella, Spirulina, Scenedesmus
Agaricus campestris; Morchella crassipes
Candida utilis, Saccharomyces fragilis, Rhodotorula
3. Biotechnology and Environment:
A clean environment is as important for us as better health and nutritious food. Environmental biotechnology promises to solve many problems related with pollution, waste disposal, etc.
i. Methods using organisms to breakdown the pollutants for e.g. the traditional septic tanks where domestic sewage is decomposed by bacteria.
ii. Genetically engineered microbes (GEM) are used for efficient treatment of industrial waste water.
iii. A greatly enhanced oil-eating bacterial strain i.e., Pseudomonas helps in the removal of oil-spills.
iv. Bioremediation of pollutants is an effective, simple and more practical method of removal of earth’s pollution. Bioremediation means the utilization of biological organisms for reducing pollution or for the removal of environmental pollutants. The bioremediation of organic toxic pollutants is mainly based on the microorganisms and thus it is called as ‘microbial bioremediation. On the other hand, the bioremediation of inorganic contaminants is carried by certain plant species and therefore it is termed as ‘phytoremediation’ (i.e., bioremediation by use of plants).
v. Growing plants with high metal absorbing ability can be a cheap and effective method to remove toxic chemicals from a particular land area.
vi. Most importantly, the production of biofuels is also a gift of environmental biotechnology for us.
4. Biotechnology in Medicines and Health Care:
In medical field, the contribution of biotechnology is most frequent. It not only helps in the cure of diseases but also aids in detection and prevention of disease. It also helps in curing genetic disorders by means of gene therapy.
i. DNA probes and Monoclonal antibodies are used as tools for diagnosis of diseases.
ii. Many valuable drugs and antibiotics are also produced on large scale by using biotechnological processes.
iii. Human Insulin was the first therapeutic product to be made commercially by genetically engineered bacterium.
iv. Cloning of human leukocyte interferon gene, HepatitisB Virus gene, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) genes, etc. have also helped in the production of vaccines.
v. Gene therapy is the method of curing genetic diseases (or acquired diseases) by the replacement of an abnormal gene by a therapeutic gene. Diseases like Tay-sachs disease, Cystic fibrosis, etc. can be cured by gene therapy. Currently biotechnologists are also making trials for using gene therapy to cure tumours, cancers, etc.
The type of gene therapy which is done at the level of germ cells like sperms, or eggs is called as germ line gene therapy. In this type of gene therapy, the functional genes are introduced into the genome of germ cells.
The changes so occurred are passed on to the forthcoming generations also, i.e., the changes are heritable in case of germ line gene therapy. Other type of gene therapy is the somatic cell gene therapy. It involves the correction of genetic defects by introduction of therapeutic gene into the somatic cells of body. The changes so occurred are not heritable.
vi. Genetic engineering aids in the high speed and high quantity production of antibiotics by certain microorganisms.
A few important antibiotics and their sources are given below:
(a) Penicillin – Penicillium notatum, P. chrysogenum
(b) Streptomycin – Streptomyces griseus
(c) Aureomycin – S. aureofaciens
(d) Chloromycetin – S. venezuelae, S. lavendulae.
(e) Erythromycin – S. erytheraeus
(f) Griseofulvin – P. griseofulvum
(g) Oxytetracyclin – S. rimosus
5. Biotechnology in Energy and Fuels:
Today oil is the major fuelling material but it is bound to run out in forthcoming years. Also, it causes a great amount of pollution. A substitute of it is being found in biofuels which are produced from the sources that are relatively clean and renewable.
i. Potential fuel crops can be genetically engineered so that they can grow at a faster rate and that also with a higher ratio of easily fermentable tissues.
ii. The microbes involved in fermentation can also be engineered for more efficient conversion of substrate into biofuel.
Biotechnology is contributing a lot to increase the acceptability of biomass, biogas. etc. as the commercially stable energy options for forthcoming time. The biomass of other biological wastes can be utilized for the generation of different forms of energy.
Biotechnology provides a number of advanced techniques for this purpose. For instance, the techniques of gene manipulations, improved varieties of plants for high yield, modified microbes, etc. makes it possible to explore renewable sources of energy.
There are certain plants which produce hydrocarbons and are called as petro-plants. e.g. Hevea rubber plant, Calotropis procera, Euphorbia lathyris, etc. Certain algae are also of immense use in production of biofuels. Biological agents like plants and microbes are modified biotechnologically and are then used to generate efficient fuels like biogas, bioethanol, biodiesel, bio hydrogen, etc.
6. Biotechnology in Production of Enzymes and Biochemical:
Many commercially important enzymes and other biochemical compounds can be obtained on large scale by modifying the source microbial strains using gene transfer methods.
Such modified microbes are termed as GEMs (Genetically Engineered Microbes). Similarly, many other compounds like vitamins, steroids, secondary metabolites, organic acids, etc. may be extracted and derived from the activity of other GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).
i. Bio fertilizers, Bio herbicides, Bio-insecticides etc. are certain biologically produced chemical compounds which involve the utilization of microbial activities.
ii. Some Examples of enzymes with their source microorganisms are:
Pectinase – Aspergillus niger, Bacillus subtilis
Glucanase – A. niger, B. subtilis
Lipase – A. niger, Mucor spp.
Cellulase – A. niger, Rhizopus, Trichoderma
α- amylase – B. licheniformis, B. amyloliquefaciens
Invertase – Saccharomyces cerevisiae, S. fragilis
Rennet – Mucor spp.
Urate oxidase – Aspergillus flavus
Protease – Bacillus licheniformis
Glucose oxidase – Penicillium notatum
7. Other Industrial Applications:
Microorganisms are of great importance for production of various substances having great scope in different industries. Microbial strains can be improved biotechnologically to get the desired product in sufficient quantity. For this purpose, the microbes can be improved using genetic engineering (recombinant DNA technology).
Different products of interest which are frequently produced in this manner are vitamins, enzymes, organic acids, amino acids, etc. Using genetic engineering techniques, it has become possible to obtain the mutants of microorganisms which can produce a much higher amount of product of interest than the natural ones.
Genetic engineering not only results into enhanced metabolite production but may also help in product modification, or producing a completely new product of interest.
Different uses of genetically engineered microbes (GEM) in various industries can be enlisted as follows:
(a) Vitamins like Vit. A, B, C, etc.
(b) Alcohols like Ethanol, Butanol, Amyl Alcohol.
(c) Amino Acids e.g. L-Glutamate, Glycine, L-Lysine, L-Valine, eta
(d) Antibiotics e.g. Penicillin, Tetracyclic Streptomycin, etc.
(e) Enzymes from fungi, bacteria, etc. e.g. L-amylase, lipase, penicillinase, protease, invertase etc.
(f) Bio fertilizers, Bio insecticides and Bio herbicides from biotechnologically improved bacterial, fungal, protozoan strains. These are of great benefit in agriculture.
(g) Extraction of minerals like copper, uranium from ores through leaching by using improved bacterial strains.
8. Biotechnology in forensic cases:
The applications of biotechnology in forensic science involve mainly the DNA fingerprinting technique. It helps in the identification of the rapists, murderers, or any other criminals on the basis of the study of DNA isolated from blood stains, hair roots, semen, sweat, saliva or urine. This technique also helps in solving the parentage disputes i.e., to find out the biological father of a child.
9. Biotechnology for Conservat ion of Nature:
For ex-situ conservation of plant species, the biotechnological approaches are used. The germplasm banks, seed banks, gene banks, etc. utilize the cryopreservation technique. Various tissue culture techniques are also employed for conservation of threatened species. Micro propagation helps in the rapid multiplication of endangered plant species.
Essay # 5. Scope of Biotechnology:
Biotechnological approaches are applied to accomplish goals for the benefit of mankind. Scientists have achieved many such goals and a few fields are also there in which they are trying for success.
Following are a few programmes being undertaken by the biotechnologists:
(a) Development of effective antiviral vaccines.
(b) Bio-control of plant diseases
(c) Genetically improving the pharmaceutical microorganisms.
(d) Large scale production of bio pesticides and bio fertilizers.
(e) Production of Human Interferon’s.
(f) Upgrading the photosynthetic efficiency of plants.
(g) Production of secondary metabolites from plants on large scale.
(h) Improved production of vitamins.
(i) Developing efficient biofuels.
(j) Developing methods for curing cancer.
(k) Better gene therapy practices for human.
(l) Production of transgenic animals and plants with better qualities.
(m) Protection of threatened species.
Biotechnology has become a very happening branch of science today. Developed countries and even some developing countries also, are pushing the researches in this field biotechnology has a great commercial potential It has revolutionized the industries specially the pharmaceuticals. This revolution is clearly reflected by the emergence of a number of biotechnological companies all over the world.
To name a few of these biotech companies are Monsanto Co. (U.S.A.), Genentech Inc. (U.S.A.), Eli lilly Smithkline, Hybritech U.S.A., etc. In India also, there are a number of companies which have been successfully producing the modern biotechnological products specially the drugs Some such Indian companies are Pennetia Biotech Ltd., Wipro, Reliance, etc..
Essay # 6. Biotechnology in India:
Like other developing countries, biotechnology has become a major thrust in India also for promotion and planning of various biotechnological programmes in India, there is present a separate department called Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
DBT was set up in 1986 under the Ministry of Science & Technology.
DBT funds some important centres for exploiting biotechnological approaches and also for promotion of postgraduate education and research in the field of biotechnology. Apart from DBT there are some other agencies also which work under the Indian Government for promotion of biotechnological approaches in various fields like industry agriculture and environment.
A few important of them are:
i. DST—Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi
ii. CSIR—Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi
iii. ICMR—Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi
iv. IARI—Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi
There are many other centres in India which function, in one way or the other for promoting biotechnology in India. Some of these centres are: NDRI—National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana
i. CDRI—Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, U.P.
ii. IVRI—Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar. U.P. CFTRI—Central Food and Technological Research Institute, Mysore
iii. CIMAP Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow, U.P.
iv. IITs of Kanpur, Madras, Bombay, New Delhi.
v. NBPGR—National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi
In addition to all the above mentioned centres, there are also a number of companies in private sector of India which have been showing keen interest in the production of modern biotechnological products.
Essay # 7. Gene Therapy:
Gene therapy in most simple words is the use of a gene to cure a disease. There are a number of genetic diseases or acquired disorders that may have occurred due to specific mutations in genes. Such disorders may be corrected by replacing the defective gene by a normal healthy gene.
This strategy of correcting the diseases is termed as gene therapy. So, the gene therapy may be defined as the introduction of normal functional gene in the defective cells of a patient to correct a genetic or acquired disorder. The process of introduction of gene into the appropriate cell of patient is called as the gene delivery.
During 1940s it was discovered that a gene from one bacterial strain could be transferred into another strain and also that gene could be expressed in another strain successfully. This discovery made the researchers to think about the possibility that human genetic disorder can be corrected in an analogous manner.
Introduction of a normal (therapeutic) gene into a cell having defective gene, results into the correction of disorder because the transferred gene provides the normal required gene product and this whole strategy is termed as the gene therapy.
A number of human diseases have been targeted for gene therapy. Some of these are:
A. Genetic diseases like Cystic Fibrosis, Haemophilia-A, B, Phenylketonuria, Severe combined Immunodeficiency Disease (SCID), etc.
B. Acquired diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS, Cancer, etc.
While performing gene therapy, one of the two strategies can be followed for gene delivery.
These two strategies are given below:
In this strategy, the normal therapeutic gene is introduced directly into the target cell of patient.
In this type of approach, the cells are isolated, cultured in-vitro and then the normal gene is introduced into these cells. Such transformed cells are then transplanted into the patient. Gene therapy can be done at two levels for disease-correction, either at the embryo level called as embryo therapy in which inheritance is also altered, or it can be done at the patient level which is called as the patient therapy.
Types of Gene Therapy:
There are mainly two types of gene therapies; these are somatic gene therapy and germ line gene therapy.
(a) Somatic Gene Therapy:
In this type, the therapeutic gene is introduced in the somatic cells of the patient. The effect so produced is not heritable. This approach is being used for trials made to treat cancer and blood disorders mainly.
(b) Germ line Gene Therapy:
In this type of gene therapy, the functional normal genes are introduced into the germ cells like sperm and eggs to correct the disorder. The changes produced by such approach are heritable and thus are passed to the next generations.
Gene therapy is beneficial not only to treat genetic disorders but also for treatment of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. To ensure a successful gene therapy, it is essential to decide an appropriate gene delivery system corresponding to the type of the target tissues.
Essay # 8. Genetic Counseling:
It is another application of biotechnology for human welfare. This technique is a boon to those couples who have some kind of doubt regarding the health of their future progeny. Genetic counselling is actually for those couples who have a threat in their minds that there may be a risk of producing a child with any genetic disease.
In developed countries, it has become a very popular and routine part of the medical practices. However now-a-days, it has also been suggested even in developing countries to go for genetic counselling, if there is any kind of doubt.
The person who serves the genetic counselling to the couples is called as a genetic counsellor. A genetic counsellor has a role for identification of genetic disease on the basis of description provided by the couple. After studying the family history thoroughly, a genetic counsellor suggests the couple for the probability of giving birth to a normal or a diseased child.
On the basis of his studies and observations, a genetic counsellor tells the possibilities of giving birth to the child or aborting the child. The technique of genetic counselling is based on the antenatal diagnosis. In this method of diagnosis, a small quantity of amniotic fluid is taken from the foetus of a pregnant woman.
This amniotic fluid contains foetal cells which are cultured on medium and then are tested to check for the presence of any genetic disorder. If on genetic counselling, the possibility of disease is detected to be higher, then, the abortion can be recommended.
Usually those couples seek genetic counselling who have a family history of diseases or those who already have any diseased child and wish to know the chances of having a normal child in next pregnancy. Genetic counselling is recommended mostly for the cases of diseases like cystic fibrosis, thalassaemia, etc. A genetic counsellor may also prescribe gene therapy to the patients if he finds any scope for it after diagnosis.
Essay # 9. Bio Fertilizers:
Bio fertilizers are described as the microorganisms which are utilized as fertilizers for plants as they enhance the availability of nutrients like Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P) to the plants. Another term used for bio fertilizers is Microbial Inoculants. A number of biological agents are being employed at large scale for the commercial preparation of bio fertilizers which include algae, bacteria and fungi.
So, we may define bio fertilizers as the microbial inoculants of bacteria, algae and fungi which increase the availability of nutrients like N, P to the plants and thus result into benefit of plants. The importance of bio fertilizers has been realized now and therefore a lot of efforts are being made by the government as well as private sector to encourage the use of bio fertilizers.
The microbial inoculants/bio fertilizers serve following advantageous aspects:
(i) These are economical.
(ii) Unlike chemical fertilizers, they are environment friendly.
(iii) Bio fertilizers do not damage the soil texture.
(iv) They not only provide nutrition to the plants but also help in enhancing the plant growth and yield.
On the basis of the type of nutrient provided by the bio fertilizers, they can be categorized as follows:
(a) Nitrogen Bio fertilizers:
These are the microbial inoculants which enhance the availability of nitrogen by fixation of atmospheric nitrogen. Examples of this category include Rhizobium, Azospirillum, Cyanobacterium, etc.
(b) Phosphatic Biofertilizers:
These are the bio fertilizers which are responsible to increase the availability of nutrient phosphorus to the plant by solubilizing the soil phosphorus. Bacteria like Thiobacillus, Bacillus, etc. are important examples of such category.
Some important microorganisms which are used commercially as bio-fertilizers are enlisted below:
For large scale production of bio-fertilizers, it is choose the efficient strains for N2-fixation and/or P-solubilization. To ensure the longevity of bio-fertilizers, their storage and distribution systems must be proper. In India, there is a continuous progress of bio-fertilizers exploitation.
A number of private industries are also involved in manufacturing of bio fertilizers. Government has also prepared a range of standards regarding the maintenance and quality of bio-fertilizers. A National Bio-fertilizer Development Centre is located at Ghaziabad in U.P. which functions for the quality check and development of bio-fertilizers in India.
Essay # 10. Gene Bank:
A gene bank is a facility where the genetic material is stored in the form of seeds or plant parts at low temperatures. It serves as an efficient method to store the germplasm of wild as well as cultivated plants and therefore it helps in conserving the vanishing genetic-diversity.
A gene bank is actually like a compartmentalized cold storage where the genetic material is stored under controlled conditions of the temperature and humidity for their germplasm conservation. Conventionally ‘seeds’ are preferred as the material for germplasm conservation.
The principle of a gene bank is that the dehydrated seeds can retain their viability for a longer period of time if stored in cold conditions.
For a long-term storage usually a temperature ranging between 0-18°C is applied. However, cryopreservation has made it more easy to store seeds in viable condition for even longer durations of time. In cryopreservation, the genetic material is stored in liquid nitrogen having a very low temperature of -196 C.
Along with conserving the original genetic diversity, gene banks also make the genetic material available as raw material to the breeders and biotechnologists.
A few of the important gene banks are located at Vavilov Institute (Russia), National seed storage laboratory (Fort Collins, USA), International Rice Research Institute (Philippines), National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (New Delhi) and Royal Botanic Garden (Kew).