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Marine Biotechnology

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Biotechnology's first impacts occurred on a terrestrial level, but "there's an end to the diversity of terrestrial life. And if you go back and ask a fundamental question: Where on earth does the biodiversity reside, you realize it is the ocean (William Fenical, Scripps Institution)." Marine biotechnology is defined as "the application of scientific and engineering principles to the processing of materials by marine biological agents to provide goods and services (Zilinskas et al., 1995)." Marine organisms have become of scientific importance due to their major shares of biological resources and possessions of unique structures, metabolic pathways, reproductive systems, and sensory and defense mechanisms, as a result of adaptations of intense environments varying from freezing polar waters to enormous pressures on the ocean floors. Marine technology then applies both new and existing biotechnological techniques to the organisms of the sea, which the vast majority has yet to be identified.

Marine biotechnology and aquaculture research creates both modern essential understanding and advanced technologies for producing new pharmaceuticals, biomaterials, and other products; expanding and increasing bioremediation and bioprocessing; boosting cultivation of aquatic species; and developing understanding of biological processes in the oceans and their role in global change (Ocean Studies Board, 1994). Since humans have hunted the sea for years, this has left many fisheries and marine ecosystems almost irreparable, yet with new and future applications of marine biotechnology, these ecosystems could be replaced.

Human populations continue to increase rapidly, and coastal environments are being severely disturbed by human activities, including pollution and the depletion of some commercially important finfish and shellfish species. A feeling of urgency about decreasing human effect on the ocean, as well as the need to understand how changed ecosystems and the damage of marine species and biodiversity has become an issue that could affect our society. Consequently, new technologies and instruments for biomedical research have now been intended to increase our knowledge of nutrition, reproduction, development, physiology, genetics, and disease. Due to this research, significant insights and essential comprehension of biological systems have been accomplished.

Modern marine biotechnology, nevertheless still in its premature years, comprises such new technologies as hybridoma and monoclonal production, protein engineering, and recombinant DNA technology using marine organisms or their components. Fish farming practices are also utilized in order to increase the world's food supply. Cloning and discovery of novel genes within marine organisms will eventually be used to produce disease-free breeder stock of fish to maintain, limit, and advance populations. Also genetic manipulations of finfish and shellfish are being performed in order to improve growth rates and disease resistance. Medical applications derived from marine biotechnology are being produced through recombinant DNA technology as a result of compounds of biomedical interest from marine organisms. By reproducing recombinant proteins of importance, bioprocessing searches for a way to utilize biomass in industrial manufacturing processes. Lastly, biofilming, biosensors, and bioremediation are being used as environmental applications.

The growth hormone was one of the first applications of marine biotechnology. Growth hormone is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, which stimulates the growth of bone and muscle cells during adolescence. Cloning the salmon growth hormone gene in return led to transgenic species of salmon that demonstrate significantly accelerated growth rates compared to natural salmon. These cloning techniques have led to fish farming practices which reduce the hunting of natural salmon. Antifreeze proteins (AFPs) as well have brought possible protection for living organisms from freezing, to produce "cold hardy" transgenic strains, storage of human tissue such as blood and human organs, and to improve shelf-life and quality of frozen foods. AFPs function is to lower freezing temperatures of fish blood and its extracellular fluids so it can maintain homeostasis in frigid marine waters. AFPs bind to the surface of ice crystals in order to adjust or hinder ice crystal configuration, lower the freezing temperature of the biological fluids, and shield cell membranes from cell destruction (Palladino et al., 2004). Scientists have begun recombinant AFP production in bacterial and mammalian cells to accommodate its large quantity demands. Green fluorescent protein (GFP) is derived from a jellyfish, Aequorea Victoria, which produces a bright green light when exposed to ultraviolet light. Scientists have used these genes to create a reporter gene which allows them to detect expression of gene of interest in a test tube, cell, or even a whole organ. The reporter genes are created by ligating the GFP gene to a gene of interest and then introducing the reporter plasmid into a cell type of choice (Palladino et al., 2004). These varieties of genes have aided in marine biotechnology reputation and have given many human health applications from such a minor piece of the ocean.

Transgenic fish are formed by genetic engineering, where they contain DNA from other species and interest that has increased the aquaculture industry. Polyploid fish are introduced to transgenic fish in order to increase growth, etc. By treating eggs with colchicines it blocks cell division by interfering with the formation of microtubules that are necessary for cell division, then fertilization with a normal haploid cell will produce a polyploid transgenic fish with growth traits that hopefully will increase its growth (Palladino et al., 2004). Bioremediation as well using its genomic and culturing tools, increases the ability to manipulate and restore, marsh environments and dredged material by Each of these biotechnological applications are used to produce different ways in which we can improve life for society and our environment. Today new as well as older applications including recombinant DNA technology, one of the first known biotechnological application, has been applied to allow marine biotechnology to grow to its position and importance.

Although marine biotechnology has grown too much importance, there are several fears that regulate the growth of such advancements in marine biotechnology. The AEBC (Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission) has expressed specific unease over the use of GM fish in aquaculture that the risk of escape into the wider environment could cause environmental disruption. If a transgenic organism with modified traits



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