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Waste Management and Modern Environmental Biotechnology
In our Environmental Biotechnology specialisation in the Bachelor of Biomolecular Science Advanced at the Gold Coast campus, you will learn how the developments in the biomolecular sciences are being applied to protect the environment — how molecular and biological agents are being used for the control of pests, in bioremediation and waste management and how modern molecular techniques are being used in diagnostics for monitoring the health of the environment.
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The Deinococcus radiodurans bacterium is very fascinating. Its name means “strange berry that resists radiation”, and it is a very fitting name, as D. radiodurans can withstand up to 5,000 GYs of radiation. Humans can only survive about 4 GYs of radiation. D. radiodurans is not the only organism that can resist such high doses of radiation. Other bacteria, some archaea, and the invertebrate animal the tardigrade, can all withstand extremely high levels of radiation. High doses of radiation cause a large number of double-stranded breaks in the DNA. D. radiodurans has multiple copies of its genome, so even if one gene is damaged, there is a back-up available. D. radiodurans is also able to segregate damaged DNA from other parts of the genome for repair. It is not known why D. radiodurans would have evolved a mechanism to survive such extreme radiation. Some evidence, however, suggests that the mechanism was meant to help protect the bacterium from severe dehydration.

Like many things in our environment, D. radiodurans has been used by humans. The D. radiodurans bacterium can be engineered to digest heavy metals and solvents, and is able to do so even in highly radioactive areas, making a helpful agent in bioremediation. D. radiodurans has even been considered as a means to store information that can be passed on in case of a nuclear catastrophe. Scientists were successfully able to have D. radiodurans store the information for the song “It’s a Small World.” However, each strain of bacteria could only hold a small amount of information. Many strains were engineered, and maintained separately. This means that D. radiodurans may not be a very practical method of storing information.
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Human activities have not only increased by many orders of magnitude the amounts of wastes and pollutants that have always existed, e.g., human refuse etc., but they have also generated a very wide variety of novel wastes and pollutants. The magnitude of this problem may be appreciated by the huge expenditure (879 and 1122 billion U.S. dollars respectively) required for waste management and for remedying other environmental problems in European Union and USA. The aim of biotechnology should be to develop such processes and products, which minimize the damage to the environment and at the same time, are compatible with a high quality of life.

Wastes may be gas, liquid or solid and may occur in a concentrated and localized or dilute and dispersed form. In addition, wastes may be biodegradable, recalcitrant or a mixture of both. Some recalcitrant components of wastes e.g., heavy metals, some man-made organic compounds, etc., may interfere with the biodegradation process by inhibiting microorganism growth. The various approaches to waste treatment may be grouped into the following five categories : (i) biofilters ( gases), (ii)landfill (solids), (iii)burning or incineration ( solids), (iv)aerobic digestion (liquid) and (v) anaerobic digestion (liquid).

Biotechnology has made several contributions to waste treatment and environmental management, the various categories of which are summarized below.

1. Technologies for degradation and conversion of readily biodegradable wastes

2. Cleaner technologies of production, which generate less number of pollutants and much lower pollution.

3. Safer products, which are far less polluting than their conventional alternatives, e.g., biofuels in place of fossil and/or nuclear fuels for energy production.

4. Sensitive and rapid detection techniques for a variety of pollutants; these techniques are generally based on either enzyme s or antibodies (biosensors, ELISA). These techniques permit a more effective environmental management.

5. Isolation and development of microorganism strains with novel capabilities of degradation of especially xenobiotic compounds.

A variety of microorganisms occur in aerobic digestion systems; these are (i) bacteria, (ii) protozoa, (iii) fungi, (iv) viruses, (v) cyanobacteria and (vi) algae. The phototrophic organisms like cyanobacteria and algae need light, and hence are absent from most parts of the treatment except on the surface of filter bed. As a result, their contribution to waste water treatment is rather limited. E.g., Zooglea ramifera, Beggiatoa, Salmonella, Nitrosomonas etc.

The anaerobic digestion process involves a wide variety of organisms of which bacteria are the most predominant. These microorganisms digest the organic molecules like lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, etc. into mainly methane and carbon dioxide. In addition, waste water containing sulphate and/or nitrate is also oxidized by microbes. E.g., Desulfovibrio
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Waste management is now a very important factor for any country because of increasing population proper disposal is important. If this is avoided it will affect environment and create problem for human beings.
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Waste Management is moving away from the directly processing of medical waste and instead rely on third-party providers of that work for customers who continue to seek that service. So its management very much is concerned with the proper utilization of resources.
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Environmental Biotechnology provides effective and sustainable (from the economical, environmental and social point of view) tools and strategies for a) monitoring and reducing the risk to humans from contaminated sites and from the storage of municipal and industrial (bio)wastes; b) cleaning up and enabling the reuse of industrial wastewater (thus reducing the industrial use of natural water); c) turning biowaste with high environmental impact into biobased, biodegradable and biocompatible chemicals, materials and fuels, with a remarkable reduction of i) human risks associated with the biowaste disposal, ii) use of polluting fossil fuels or food crops for producing chemicals and fuels, and iii) CO2 production and climate change impacts.
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Biotechnology harnesses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet.
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Environmental Biotechnology has a broad application potential in a variety of industries such as those involved in the sustainable remediation of sites and wastewaters and the innovative chemical and energetic valorization of biowastes but also, considering the possible end users of the bio-based products resulting from the biowaste biorefineries, in the chemical, textile, and agro-industry as well as in the energy sector.
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Environmental biotechnology is a kind of biotechnology which deals with natural environment. It is clearly implying that one could utilize this technology for commercial exploration. The intelligentsia involved in environmental biotechnology elucidates it development of biological system for improving the affected environments like air , water and land. Exactly, it is eco friendly technology which is mainly responsible for sustainable development of the environments.

Why it is necessary?

Environmental biotechnology is very important in today’s world where materialism and capitalism rules. The shift in the pattern of seasons clearly implies the gross importance of environmental biotechnology. And, global warming is worth citing example in this regard. Presently, most of the affected environments are those which are not exporting carbon and chemicals to the environments. Hence, it is highly necessary for saving food, agriculture, lives, climate, earth, aquatic life, and all living organisms. The Millennium Development Goals clearly paint the picture of importance of environmental biotechnology.

What are its Applications and Implications?

Human beings have been using genetic material for vested interest since a long time. Though, they have been benefited from these vested interests yet the negative aspects should not be neglected.

However, Environmental biotechnology is mainly dealing with deterrence between applications and implications of using the genetic material. Yes, both of these factors have been addressed in the text books.
Though, these books address the wastewater problems apart from producing new biological principles yet their far reaching repercussions have always been untouched. Exactly, the books do not deal with the negative aspect being occurred through the use of this technology.

What it has to do?

Environmental biotechnology is supposed to play its significant role in agro-ecology. It has to go through the process of operations on 15 million biogas digesters proposed in Millennium Development Goals. Besides, it has to deal with all the issues pertaining the environments ranging from food security, global warming, waste water, and change in environment etc.
Sasa Milosevic
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Nice information. I'm student of biotechnology in Brazil, and I have the opportunity to work in so many projects with direction in environmental area. I work in one environmental park, and we introduce so many technics of biotechnology to treat the waste, for example, biodigestor, composting, vermiculture, and we are starting some work with algae. In every work, we are using the microbial biodiversity of the ecossystem. The "Parque das Dunas"( Park of Dunes) is in some transition area, from the Atlantic Florest and marine. We are starting the work, here are very difficult I buy some laboratory equipment, for me the biotechnology is very important to the people use the correct tools to protect the biodiversity, because it's important use the genetics engering to produce news microbes optimized, but in the environment we have so many species to much eficient, and we need to study.
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