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Biotechnology: A Textbook of Industrial


Article June 2010

DOI: 10.1016/0307-4412(90)90229-H


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Saad Tayyab
University of Malaya


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have lurched about in the morass of educational literature and The print-out could be title, or title and abstract, could be sent
subject-speciality articles on computer assisted learning, the aims to the printer, or could be printed in San Francisco and air-
of MML read like a manifesto for peace at last. The following is mailed, all at different costs. Of the 50 most 'recent, linked
a paraphrase of an editorial by Friedman and Resnikoff. citations, 30% were 'relevant', 45% 'irrelevant', and the rest
MML is an international, quarterly, peer-reviewed journal, 'marginal'. An attempt with a different database did a lot less
intended for an audience that includes decision makers, develop- well: the authors make the point that a search is only as good as
ment teams, and researchers in industry and government as well the input to the database (up to date, No of journal articles
as in schools and colleges. Sophisticated and authoritative entered).
articles are sought which place their subject in a larger context At the end of the programme the main points are succinctly
and their comprehension is not limited to specialists. The journal summarised.
aims to improve communication between groups whose common The programme would be good for students to watch.
interest centres on the problems of learning, including scientists Although most of the points could almost as easily be made on
working in specialty areas. It is intended to broaden the the printed page, there is an immediacy about the video which
availability of information by, for example, publishing the more would hold students' attention. The pace was about right, and
general aspects of a paper on video disc technology originally one could easily re-run to check up on any point missed. The
presented to engineers or a study of visual perception first production standard is adequate although some views of screens
developed for cognitive scientists. A bridge should also be made and white pages flickered on my TV.
between functionally isolated groups such as the military,
educators and researchers. E J Wood
A journal which should be all things to all people is one that
can only disappoint the unrealistic ambitions of its founders.
Volume 2 of MML (1987/88) in its four slender quarterly prints Book Reviews
comprised 372 pages and 21 articles, a rather limited offering to
achieve the comprehensiveness that the editors aspire to. The Biotechnology: A Textbook of Industrial Micro-
breadth of the articles printed was commendable and encom- biology
passed humanities and science subject areas. Pedagogic prin-
ciples were generally well discussed and well referenced in the by W u l f C r u e g e r and Anneliese Crueger. E d i t o r of the
articles so the reader could springboard to other sources.
English edition: T h o m a s D Brock. pp 357. Sinauer
The field of machine mediated learning is littered with
reinvented wheels. For example you may be interested to know Associates, Sunderland, M A . 1990 I S B N 0 - 8 7 8 9 3 - 1 3 1 - 7
of the efforts of the National Board of Medical Examiners (US)
in creating a computer simulation to assess clinical competence Biotechnology, an integrated discipline involving the use of
(MML 2, 257-269, 1988). So if you are in a position where a microbiology, biochemistry and engineering, has emerged in
substantial amount of effort or money is being expended on recent years as an area at the forefront of biological research.
creating or extending a computer teaching facility then this Due to rapid developments in this field, even the most tenuous
journal may have some gems of information for you. It could not probabilities have now become possibilities. In the exploding
be rated a 'must acquire' for most biochemists, but Taylor and world of biotechnology, there is a great need of books to survey
Francis offer to remit a free sample copy which shows the the state of the art not only for newcomers to this field but for
publishers ~faith in the merit of the journal. scientists in other fields also, and indeed, a large number of
books dealing with various aspects of biotechnology have been
G R Parslow written. However, distilling and collecting a battery of tech-
niques which are revolutionising research, development and
production in areas as diverse as the food industry and pollution
Data Search control into a single book is a demanding and difficult task. In
my opinion the combined efforts of both the authors give an
A 20 minute video programme on literature searching, by R excellent multidisciplinary approach in meeting these objectives.
Ng, H Renwick and K Scott (Audiovisual Centre, Univer- Nowadays industrial microbiology has become a multibillion
dollar industry. Using the now well-established technology of
sity of Auckland, New Zealand)
genetic engineering, microorganisms are being hunted for the
production of desirable substances on a large scale. The
This programme commences with a description of the types of principles on which the whole of industrial microbiology rests are
literature database available (journals, abstracting journals, etc) clearly defined in this book. The present edition is the
and goes on to show how to set up a search the topic of which is translation of German language edition published in 1989. In this
the connexion between proteolytic enzymes and the culture respect I must congratulate Dr Brock, the editor of the English
growth of cells. The system used is Dialog, which is physically in edition for making this book accessible to English speaking
San Francisco, but which is accessed from New Zealand by students and researchers.
telephone/satellite link. The point is then made that an eco- The book is organised in twenty chapters which divide the
nomical search is required, and it is demonstrated how this might whole subject into defined targets of attack. These include
be set up. Three keywords or 'concepts' are put in: A: Proteases, genetic engineering, immobilized enzymes and cells for larger
B: Membranes and C: Cells, and it is shown how to truncate. scale processes, industrial fermentation processes for the pro-
Thus, ' L E U ?OCYTE?' gets both leukocyte and leucocyte and duction of organic acids, alcohols, aldehydes and flavor and
their plurals. Having chosen the keywords only those references aroma ingredients, and purification of industrial metabolites.
in which the three are linked (ie all present in the title of an Each chapter begins with an introductory note followed by
article) are selected. The importance of this is shown by the fact detailed description of the subject and recent bibliography.
that protease pulled about 17 000 citations, membrane about Chapter 1 introduces the readers to the scope of biotechnology.
90 000 and leukocytes about 80 000, but the three were only To develop the procedures for obtaining new microbial metab-
linked in 241 out of the 200 000. As a further expense-saving olites is one of the main tasks of industrial microbiologists.
compromise only the most recent 50 were requested for print- Chapter 2 deals with different screening methods for new
out. metabolites. Mutants/recombinants are generally used in the



large scale production of antibiotics, enzymes, amino acids and

other substances. For making use of these mutants/recombi-
A. I. B
nants, industrial strain development processes should be eco-
nomical. A t the same time developed strains should be hardy
enough to survive extreme conditions and give high yields of
desirable products. Chapter 3 presents some fundamental
genetic approaches to strain improvement and their applic-
6Hono JHecEa
ability. Substrates which are used frequently in industrial
fermentations is the topic of discussion in chapter 4. The
production of useful metabolites from biological material is the
goal of biotechnology. Chapters 5 and 6 describe various Biological Chemistry
fermentation procedures and purification and recovery of
products. Organic compounds are used as a feed stock in the by A Y a N i k o l a e v . p p 496. V y s s h a y a S h k o l a , M o s c o w .
chemical industry and both as feed-stock and as additives in food 1989. (in R u s s i a n ) 1.50 r o u b l e s
industry. Chapters 7 and 8 explain their biosynthesis and
production processes. Chapters 9-14 give a detailed account of This is a general textbook of biochemistry for medical students.
production, structure, biosynthesis, regulation and uses of amino It covers all the main branches of the subject. In 159 pages Part 1
acids, nucleosides, nucleotides and related compounds, vit- deals with the structure, properties and functions of proteins,
amins, antibiotics, ergot alkaloids and a brief account of enzymes including their mechanisms and control, and leads on to
immobilized enzymes. Chapter 15 is devoted to microbial the structure of nucleic acids, the biosynthesis of nucleic acids
transformation. Here information about the procedures of and proteins, and the molecular mechanisms of genetic vari-
biotransformation and its applications is given. Chapters 16-20 ation. By putting that scope into a single sentence I point to the
throw light on various new aspects such as single cell protein, main weakness of the book - - it covers a vast field too thinly.
new approaches to sewage treatment, microbial leaching, extra- The author has a pleasant style, he illustrates points frequently
cellular polysaccharides and other fermentation processes and with medical applications, so he makes it an interesting story. He
future prospects. In my opinion a few of the chapters (2, 4, 18) achieves the main function of any textbook, to present argu-
fail to deliver the necessary blend of information due to their ments for conclusions (perhaps not as often as I would wish),
short length: insufficient detail is given to be useful. There are hence students will learn how to handle evidence. Furthermore,
some printing mistakes. he takes the trouble to explain quite a lot of the principles, for
Overall, the book represents a package containing a great deal example in the folding of protein molecules and in denaturation.
of information offering a wide and comprehensive coverage of Nevertheless, although the description is thorough, the
the field. explanations that would illuminate it are often absent. Thus
S Tayyab under transamination, each stage is meticulously chronicled, but
without ever pointing out that the pyridoxal provides electron
Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology attraction that allows a C - - H bond to lose H + without creating a
carbanion. Hence students will get no feel of how the complex
b y J S t e n e s h . p p 525. J o h n W i l e y & Sons, C h i c h e s t e r . mechanism described to them actually assists catalysis.
1989. 47 ISBN 0-471-84089-0 Part 2 tackles metabolism including energetics. Again the
story is well told and integrated with medical applications.
This is a greatly expanded edition of a dictionary that first Subtleties such as Q cycles, are, however, avoided. Part 3 deals
appeared in 1975. It now contains about 16 000 entries, about with hormonal control, and includes a good chapter on the
4000 of them added since 1975. The author has wisely not regulation of water and salt. Part 4 gives particular applications.
attempted the impossible task of defining the limits of Biochem- with chapters on various tissues. It gives a good feel for the
istry and Molecular Biology. Many entries are therefore integration of biochemistry with medicine and physiology.
included from the physical sciences, genetics, microbiology, etc, Actual mistakes are few: they include the old one of a saturation
and these are probably some of the most useful to the practising curve, supposedly hyperbolic, where the saturation is 100%
biochemist. After all, no biochemist would have much use for when [L] is about six times the dissociation constant, and
the entry on the famous 'Citric acid cycle', which is dispensed formulas of ATP and other nucleoside derivatives sometimes
with in about 90 words without a single formula. Similar criticism reversed so that L-ribose is shown. Unfortunately the author's
can be levelled at 'Glycolysis', 'Respiratory chain' and several artist has served him badly on the cover: a nice diagram of the
other entries on subjects central to biochemistry. On the other active centre of carboxypeptidase is spoilt by mis-shading of the
hand, it might be useful to be reminded of the definition of atoms to make nonsense of them by interchanging some
'Stochastic', 'Archeozoic era', 'Coincidence circuit', 'Cell cycle', nitrogen, carbon and oxygen atoms.
'Homeotic mutation', 'Morgan unit' (to mention but a few), or a I suspect that no book could be much better in the length
term in a field of Biochemistry distant from one's own. Most provided; but 1 wish it were longer so that it could make more
valuable are the entries on techniques, many of which have been sense of the processes it describes. It is far better than the book
included since the first edition, eg 'Footprinting', 'Southern of the same title, also officially approved for medical students
blotting', 'Isotachophoresis', etc. It must be stressed, however, throughout the USSR, that I reviewed a few years ago
that all entries are brief, even the larger ones occupying hardly a (Biochemical Education, 12, 90-91, 1984, for a different view of
third of a printed column. Formulae, metabolic schemes and which, see 12, 185) and will give students a real feel for the
pictorial aids of any kind are almost totally lacking, and there are subject, except in tying in with their chemical knowledge. Like
no literature references to enable the reader to find more so many Soviet textbooks, its price seems fantastically cheap to
information. In the preface, the author states "In all cases, those of us used to the cost of western textbooks.
however, a comprehensive encyclopedic treatment was pur- In summary, it is entertaining, logical and clear, and the
posely avoided". The dictionary is therefore exactly what its biochemistry is well integrated with physiology and medicine,
author intended it to be, namely a comprehensive list of words, although not with chemistry. Greater depth, which would
abbreviations and acronyms, with snappy, brief definitions. require a longer book, would be welcome,

T A Scott H B F Dixon


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