Environmental Biology: Article Review
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the issue of environmental biology in relation to conservation of global environment. In the recent past, biotechnology has been become an important tool in environmental studies and conservation, with various researchers attempting to use genetically modified microorganisms to save the environment. This paper reviews two articles that have attempted to present some valid arguments on the possibility of using biological technologies to conserve the environment with success.
The article by Carl Zimmer (2009) presents a brief review of recent studies that have shown the possibility of using biotechnology to develop alternative sources of energy. According to the author, biotechnology allows researchers to reprogram cells such as bacteria and yeast to provide them with the ability to synthesize certain biomaterials needed in agriculture and energy production. For instance, the author argues that this part of biology, which is known as synthetic biology, allows genetically reprogrammed cells to produce gasoline from sugar. According to the article, the largest percentage of gasoline in the American market today is a product of this method. It is important to note that the process of using reprogrammed cells to produce energy provides humans with an alternative source of energy that has very little impact on the environment. In fact, it is a safe way of energy production.
Steen, Kang, Bokinsky, Hu et al (2010) published an article on “The Nature Journal” in which they have attempted to support the idea of using synthetic biology in energy production. According to the article, the increase in energy costs and demand for fuels in the modern world exposes humans to a number of environmental problems. In fact, they base their argument on the modern understanding that the increasing environmental concerns can only be resolved with alternative sources of fuel. Sustainable and renewable fuels and chemicals are required in this process. In this article, the authors argue that microbial production of high-energy biofuels is the best way to deal with environmental concerns. In this example, fatty acids derived from microbial metabolism of sugars and another form of energy have been proposed as the best alternative source of fuel.
According to the researches, fatty acids are good materials for microbial cells to use in converting biological materials into energy. In fact, they argue that bioconversion of fatty acids to fuel or oleochemicals is a safe way because it requires plant or animal products and a good environment for genetically engineered bacteria to act on these materials. According to the article, E. coli is the most studied organism in biotechnology, which allows researchers to manipulate its genes by inserting new gene variants that are likely to enhance their ability to convert biological substances such as plant and animal fatty acids to fuel for industrial consumption.
In fact, the reaches report that E. coli bacteria have successfully been used to convert a number of materials into fuel. For instance, they argue that the bacteria has been sued to produce fatty esters or biodiesels, waxes, and fatty alcohols directly from natural sugars from plants. In addition, the researchers report that their studies were able to produce bacteria with a high capability to produce biodiesels. According to the article, the process involved inserting some genes coding for hemicellulases, which are a group of enzymes that control the process of producing biodiesels from simple sugars and fatty acids.
These articles provide evidence to support the modern notion that biotechnology is one of the few tools that will save the world from environmental degradation. In fact, biotechnology has shows hope in ensuring that energy sources such as fuel will be produced in a safe and effective way. At the center of these technologies is bioengineering of Escherichia coli, which has been supported by evidence given in the two articles.
Steen, E. J., Kang, Y., Bokinsky, G., Hu, Z., et al. (2010). Microbial production of fatty-acid-derived fuels and chemicals from plant biomass. Nature 463, 559-562.
Zimmer, C. (2009). Can E. coli Save the World? The National Geographic. Web.