Ploughing with a yoke of horned cattle in Ancient Egypt. Painting from the burial Chamber of Sennedjem, c. 1200 BC
Although the word biotechnology sounds new and contemporary, we’ve been tweaking genes–the stuff of life–for millennia:
“Early people began altering communities of flora and fauna for their own benefit through means such as fire-stick farming and forest gardening very early. Exact dates are hard to determine, as people collected and ate seeds before domesticating them, and plant characteristics may have changed during this period without human selection. An example is the semi-tough rachis and larger seeds of cereals from just after the Younger Dryas (about 9,500 BC) in the early Holocene in the Levant region of the Fertile Crescent. Monophyletic characteristics were attained without any human intervention, implying that apparent domestication of the cereal rachis could have occurred quite naturally.
Agriculture began independently in different parts of the globe, and included a diverse range of taxa. At least 11 separate regions of the Old and New World were involved as independent centers of origin. Some of the earliest known domestications were of animals. Pigs were domesticated in Mesopotamia around 13,000 BC. Sheep were domesticated in Mesopotamia between 11,000 and 9,000 BC. Cattle were domesticated from the wild aurochs in the areas of modern Turkey and Pakistan around 8,500 BC. Camels were domesticated late, perhaps around 3,000 BC.”–Via
Nowadays, the stuff that we can do with genes would seem like wizardry to ancient Mesopotamians. We can use the immune system of bacteria to edit the human genome. With current techniques, insulin can be made by embedding human genetic code in the genome of Escherichia coli. In other words, if the plow, the scythe, and slashing and burning were the tools that made it possible for the ancients to manipulate genes, the micropipette, the electrophoresis chamber, and the agarose gel are new the hardware.
AP and Honor (10th Grade) students:
Write a brief reflection–of no more than 150 words–of your Biotech Experience (March 6–10, 2017) on the comment section below. This being a blog, you can add pictures, videos, and/or hyperlinks to your comment. Remember that your experience had to be documented with pictures (a minimum of 5). Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The total value of this assignment is 50 points. Due date: March 31, 2017.
This lab was the most interesting one we have made. its amazing to be able to extract the DNA of a strawberry and it felt super exiting to work with professional tools in this lab. I discovered that biotechnology its actually really interesting, and I learned about a whole new branch of biology that I didn’t even know of, and found really useful. It would be a good idea to study this in the university even if it is just for fun and to gain knowledge because it show a whole new way of looking at nature. Thank you for this experience, it was the best lab I had ever made because it made me realize how fun knowing about nature could be.
The AMGEN biotech experience was a great first-person introduction to what is the world of microbiology. I found it very interesting how I could extract the DNA of a strawberry with common house-hold objects like dishwasher soap, for example. I felt a whole different vibe going into this lab because from the moment I entered the classroom, the teacher made us put on yellow lab coats, which made me feel like this was the real deal. Then, throughout the week we started going at some more advanced labs with tools like the micropipette. It was an amazing experience and I hope I keep doing labs like this in the future.
This lab experience was incredible because I had the opportunity to do and work with things I had never done before. The fact that we all got the opportunity to work with actual professional equipment made it more exciting. We also had the chance to see DNA and I had never seen it before. Due to this experience I want to continue learning about biotechnology because it seems to be a very interesting topic. I honestly would suggest to other students or even teachers that have the opportunity to do this lab to take full advantage of the knowledge that you can acquire during the process.
The AMGEN Biotech Experience was definately a fun one. We had the opportunity to use a professional tool called the micropipette that made me feel like a real biochemist. Over the course of March 6-10, we performed a series of two labs. In the first one, my personal favorite, we extracted the DNA of a strawberry using simple materials. In the second lab, we familiarized ourselves with an instrument called micropippete. At first, it was sort of tricky to use but as we continued with our lab it started to get a lot easier. After performing these labs, it opened my curiosity to the world of biotech. These labs made me realize how exciting it is to think about what the world of biotech holds for us in the near future. This was a very fun yet educational experience that I would like to repeat.