20457 Laboratory: Biotechnology

Credits: 2 intermediate credits in Life Sciences

Prerequisites: Cell Structure and Function (single-semester format or year-long format), The World of Bacteria

Required: Genetics 1

Recommended: Biotechnology, as well as the ability to read scientific texts in English

The course was developed by Stefan Rokem.

The aim of the course is to provide students with hands-on experience in the development of a biotechnological process for ethyl alcohol production by microorganisms. Ethyl alcohol is used as raw material in the chemical industry; it serves as a source of energy and has great potential.

The course is held on five non-consecutive days at the Open University laboratory. For each laboratory session, students read background material in English. Participation in all sessions is mandatory.

Topics of laboratory sessions: (1) Selecting a method to isolate a production organism from among a wide range of potential producers from the natural environment. (2) Acquaintance with the physical and chemical conditions that characterize a production environment. Students examine the production potential, production rate and the cost of growing producing cells with various carbon sources. (3) Examining the advantages embodied in the use of recombinant DNA technology. Students learn how genetic engineering methods help create new compounds and reduce the costs of conventional production processes. (4) Determining optimal conditions for growth and production. Students monitor growth and production kinetics, observing cell utilization of the substrate mixture in a fermentor, and learn the basic operation principles of a full industrial process. (5) Separation and cleaning of the product created in the fermentation. Students learn criteria for cleaning the final product, its sensitivity to separation and cleaning conditions and the means for maintaining its biological structure and activity.

1or the previous version of the course, From Mendelism to Genetic Engineering.