Biotechnology is a process that uses the scientific research on DNA for practical means. Biotechnology is synonymous with genetic engineering because the genes of an organism are changed during the process. Because the genes are changed, the DNA of the organism is said to be recombined. The result of the process is recombinant DNA. Recombinant DNA and biotechnology can be used to form proteins not normally produced in a cell to make drugs or vaccines or to promote human health. In addition, bacteria that carry recombinant DNA can be released into the environment under carefully controlled conditions to increase the fertility of the soil, serve as an insecticide, or relieve pollution. An organism that contains additional genes from another organism is said to be transgenic. Along with bacteria, transgenic plants and animals are also being created. Humans can also have the genes in their cells modified to produce proteins that relieve health-related deficiencies.
A researcher’s ability to modify an organism’s genome is possible because of genomics. Genomics is the study of an organism’s entire set of chromosomes, including their function and species evolution. The sequencing of the human genome was completed in 2003, and since then, numerous prokaryotes (such as E. coli) and eukaryotes (both vertebrates and invertebrates) have been sequenced. This allows the comparison of genomes across a wide range of organisms, providing a better understanding of their genetic similarities and evolutionary history.