Biotechnology Question Bank, Bioinformatics Tools, IP and IPR, EST Technique

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10. What kinds of analysis can be done using bioinformatics tools?

Many kinds of analysis can be made using various bioinformatics tools. These are as follows:

  • Processing raw information- the bioinformatics tools are used to process the experimentally determined sequence/raw information into genes, the proteins encoded with their functions, the regulatory sequences, and inferring phylogenetic relationships.

  • Genes- Gene prediction can be done by using computer programmes like Gene Mark for bacterial genomes and GENSCAN for eukaryotes.

  • Proteins- simple computer programmes are used to infer protein sequences from the predicted genes.

  • Regulatory sequences- Bioinformatics tools can be used to analyse and identify the regulatory sequences.

  • Inferring phylogenetic relationships- Information regarding the relationships between organisms can be obtained by aligning multiple sequences, calculating evolutionary distance, and constructing phylogenetic trees.

  • Making a Discovery- using the bioinformatics tools and databases, the functions of unknown genes can be predicted.

11. What was the contribution of Margaret Dayhoff in the field of molecular evolution?

Margaret Dayhoff observed that protein sequences undergo variation during evolution according to certain patterns. She noted that:

  • Amino acids were not replaced at random but were altered with specific preferences. For example, amino acids of similar physico-chemical characteristics were preferred one over another.

  • Some amino acids such as tryptophan, was generally not replaced by any other.

  • Based on several homologous sequences, a point accepted mutation (PAM) matrix could be developed. This laid the first foundation for subsequent work on sequence comparisons using quantitative approaches.

12. Who discovered the EST technique?

Craig Venter and his research group.

Questions on Biotechnology and Society

1. What is IP and IPR?

  • With the fast pace development in the field of biotechnology, the issues related to legal characterization and the treatment of trade related biotechnological processes and products are of immense importance. These are popularly known as Intellectual Property. Intellectual Property includes Patents, trade secrets, copyrights, and trademarks. In biotechnology, the intellectual property covers the processes and products which result from the development of genetic engineering techniques through the use of restriction enzymes to create recombinant DNA.

  • Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is a collective term applied to a number of different types of legal rights granted by each country. The right to protect this property prohibits others from making, copying, using or selling the proprietary subject matter.

2. What are the advantages of getting a patent?

The advantages of patents and other forms of IPR are:

  • These practices help in encouraging and safeguarding intellectual and artistic creations.

  • They help to disseminate new ideas and technologies quickly and widely.

  • They promote investment.

  • They help the inventor to provide the fruits and benefits of his creation and invention to the public.

  • They provide increased opportunities for the distribution of the above effects across countries in a manner proportionate to national levels of economic and industrial development (OECD, Paris, 1989)

3. What are breeder’s right?

The new crop varieties are developed and protected through “plant breeder’s rights or PBRs. The PBRs ensures that the plant breeder who developed a particular variety gets the exclusive rights for marketing the variety. The following two major steps were taken in consideration of PBRs:(b) The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has an International treaty on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. This treaty consists of a particular clause which refers to operation of farmer’s rights.(c) The ‘Plant Varietal Protection and Farmer’s Rights Act 2001 agrees for the right of farmers, breeders, and researchers. The protection is provided by making compulsory licensing of rights, and inhibiting the import of plant varieties consisting of ‘genetic use of restriction technology’ (GURT) e.g. terminator technology of Monsanto.

Following conditions should be fulfilled to grant protection to the new varieties:a) the new variety must always be new i.e. it should not have ever been exploited commercially.b) It should be biologically distinct and possess different characters.c) The new variety of the plant must have uniform characters.f) The distinguishing character of new variety must be stable for generations.g) The new variety should have taxonomic validity i.e. systematic position, generic and species names etc.

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