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Introduction

Environmental
biotechnology is the
solving of environmental
problems through the
application of
biotechnology.
Why environmental
biotechnology?
It is needed to:
eliminate the hazardous
wastes produced by our
other technologies.
distinguish between
similar species and
ensure species are not at
risk of extinction.
create alternative energy
sources (i.e. Biofuel).
1) Molecular Ecology
Using biological techniques (i.e. DNA fingerprinting)
to better understand aspects of nature.
This is done to look at the biodiversity of different
populations to ensure they are not at risk of going
extinct (cheetahs and polar bears currently).
It can be used to determine if a new species has
emerged and also better map the evolutionary
development of different families of animals (horses
and whales currently).
1) Molecular Ecology

Reading a DNA fingerprint Biofuel exaggeration


2) Bioremediation
Bioremediation is the use
of bacteria (or fungi) to
clean up hazardous
environmental wastes.
The bacteria essentially
turn the dangerous waste
products into less
hazardous, easy to dispose
of, waste.
Plants are also being tested
in some areas to do this job
(Sunflowers at Chernobyl
removed Cesium and
Strontium).
2) Bioremediation
In North America,
bioremediation has been
used to clean up Canadas
DEW line sties in the arctic
and has been used to clean
up after oil spills off of
Alaska.
Currently, this science can
engineer bacteria to break
down hazardous waste right
at the workplace to avoid
transport and storage.
3) Biosensors
A biosensor uses a
biological entity (i.e.
bacteria) to monitor
levels of certain
chemicals OR uses
chemicals to monitor
levels of certain
biological entities (i.e.
pathogens).
3) Biosensors
Current uses of
biosensors include:
Detecting levels of
toxins in an ecosystem
Detecting airborne
pathogens (i.e. anthrax)
Monitoring blood
glucose levels
4) Biofuels
A biofuel is a plant derived
fuel that is deemed more
environmentally friendly that
current fuel sources as they
all release less carbon dioxide
into the atmosphere.
Ethanol from corn is placed
in many gasoline varieties in
North America.
Biodiesel is fuel made from
used cooking oil.
Biogas is made from gases
released by compost or a
landfill.
4) Biofuels
The current project of many
biofuel scientists is aptly
nicknamed A Journey to Forever,
creating a self-sustaining biofuel
cell that gives off no greenhouse
gas emissions.
Many different bacterial strains
can produce lots of hydrogen
under anaerobic conditions.
This hydrogen can be used as a
fuel source with the only waste
product being oxidized hydrogen
water.
This technology has not been
perfected yet.
Homework
1) Define the following terms: environmental
biotechnology, biofuel, biofuel cell, bioremediation,
biosensor
2) What positive impacts do you feel environmental
biotechnology will have on the Canadian
environment? Explain.