» Biotechnology

A Genomics-enabled Microbial Observatory in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The DeLong lab’s scientific interests focus primarily on questions in microbial biology. A large part of the lab’s efforts have been devoted to the study of microbes and microbial processes in the ocean, combining both laboratory and field-based approaches. In addition to specifically examining the role of archaea in marine microbial communities, the DeLong Lab has focused on the development and application of genomic technologies to answer fundamental questions central to microbial ecology and evolution. Much of the biological complexity of microbial ecosystems is encoded within the collective genomes of the community. Just as individual macromolecules can serve as documents of evolutionary history, naturally occurring genomes can provide unprecedented perspective on environmental, evolutionary and ecological history. Recent applications in the marine environment demonstrate that our understanding of the functional attributes, population biology, and natural history of extant microbes can now be significantly advanced using these new approaches. Read More

What is an Extremophile?

An extremophile is an organism that thrives under “extreme” conditions. The term frequently refers to prokaryotes and is sometimes used interchangeably with Archaea. In this module, however, you will find that extremophiles come in all shapes and sizes, and that our understanding of the phylogenetic diversity of extreme habitats increases daily. Read More

Tardigrades (Water Bears)

Tardigrades (Tardigrada), also known as water bears or moss piglets, are a phylum of small invertebrates. Read More

The Winogradsky Column

The Winogradsky Column is an excellent activity, specifically for grades 5 – 12, to demonstrate the growth of microorganisms. Building a Winogradsky Column is both inexpensive and effective, offering students a memorable hands-on experience. The resources provided will help you get started. Have fun in the mud! Read More

Bioinformatics: An Interactive Introduction to NCBI

Understanding nature’s mute but elegant language of living cells is the quest of modern molecular biology. From an alphabet of only four letters representing the chemical subunits of DNA, emerges a syntax of life processes whose most complex expression is man….The challenge is in finding new approaches to deal with the volume and complexity of data, and in providing researchers with better access to analysis and computing tools in order to advance understanding of our genetic legacy and its role in health and disease. Read More

SARS, the First Pandemic of the 21st Century

The 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) shocked the world as it spread swiftly from continent to continent, resulting in >8,000 infections, with approximately 10% mortality, and a devastating effect on local and regional economies. Three laboratories—one each in Hong Kong, Germany, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, USA—nearly simultaneously isolated an apparently new coronavirus as the cause of SARS. Through traditional virus isolation and molecular techniques, CDC’s team recovered the virus from specimens and characterized it as a novel coronavirus. Specific nucleotide sequences of the new virus were identified in specimens from SARS patients, and an immune response to the agent was demonstrated in patients’ sera. Read More

Consumer Attitudes Toward Agricultural Biotechnology

Since their market introduction in 1996, agricultural biotechnologies that confer insect or herbicide resistance have been adopted extensively by agricultural producers. More recently, DNA technologies that produce plantmade pharmaceuticals are being developed for future release. The market penetration of any of these products depends on consumer acceptance, but recent research indicates mixed opinions of GMO (genetically modified organism)- derived products by U.S. consumers. Read More

Teaching Support

Help for teachers of biotechnology. Read More

Biotechnology & Genomics

Through national program leadership and competitive funding opportunities, NIFA provides support for research, education, and outreach in the development and use of biotechnology and genomics. This support involves promoting cutting-edge scientific research for development of beneficial new tools and products that seek new and better ways to sustain and improve agriculture, to protect our environment, and to generate new economic opportunities for agricultural communities. Read More

Food and Agriculture

Humans need food to live. Today, we spend much less time obtaining and preparing food than our grandparents did, and we eat a much greater variety. Read More


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