the new frontier for adventurous explorers? Bioprospecting. Short
for biodiversity prospecting, it's the exploration of wild plants
and animals for commercially valuable genetic and biochemical resources.
Much of the
exploration takes place in nature's most extreme settings, volcanoes,
deep under the sea or in remote jungles. The prospectors are looking
for places where bacteria thrive under extreme conditions like highheat,
or super cold.
these environments are taken back to the lab and studied to see
what kind of work the microorganisms and bacteria are capable of.
that got to do with genetic engineering? Through the use of recombinant
DNA techniques, genes from any plant or animal can be transferred
to another. By discovering the capabilities of organisms found through
bioprospecting, the genes can be engineered into other organisms
and used for new industrial applications such as mining, wastewater
treatment, and carbon-dioxide scrubbing. Pharmaceutical companies
and pesticide producers are also very interested in replicating
the natural abilities of organisms found through bioprospecting.
Find out more
about some specific organisms discovered by bioprospecting. http://www.nps.gov/yell/nature/thermophiles/biopro.html
Source: World Resources
Institute. "Questions and Answers About 'Bioprospecting.'"
(Online.) http://www.wri.org/biodiv/bp-facts.html September 2002.