Biotechnology is a form of technology which refers to the development of new useful products that have been made from living organisms, such as bacteria and fungi. One way to develop new useful products is through genetic engineering. Biotechnology uses different equipment to aid them with this development, such as the use of extracellular enzymes. Extracellular enzymes are enzymes where their enzymatic activity on a substrate occurs outside the cells’ protoplasm. Extracellular enzymes are used for a host of reasons: they are easy to isolate, there is no need to break cells to gain access to their properties and enzymatic activity, and they are stable organisms. Extracellular enzymes in bacteria and fungi are used in many different industrial  processes such as genetic engineering.

An example of an extracellular enzyme that is commonly used in industry and that can be found in bacteria are restriction enzymes. Restriction enzymes are extracellular enzymes that are used in the production of genetically modified products. These enzymes are able to cut a specific region of DNA which opens up and a gene is inserted into it. The ability of enzymes to be able to do this to DNA is beneficial for organisms, such as humans. For example, a person that lacks the gene which produces insulin would be able to produce this hormone once the insulin gene is inserted into his/her DNA. Genetic modification has also been of great benefit to farmers because it has been used to modify foods such as tomatoes. Tomatoes have been modified to be able to ripen but not get spoilt, that way they can have a longer shelf life.

Extracellular enzymes that are present in both fungi and bacteria include amylase, proteases and lipases. These examples are used in biotechnology to produce products such as washing powder and in bread making. The extracellular enzyme protease, is used in washing powder to help with the removal of food stains without damaging the clothes they are used on. Amylase and lipase are also used in the manufacturing of washing powder to remove food stains that are made by starch and lipid-consisting foods.

Saprophytic fungi are a species that secrete extracellular enzymes in order for them to be able to  digest food. These species of fungi produce extracellular enzymes called α-amylase, which is used in the manufacturing of the bread making process. Alpha-amylase is also used in the paper making industry, where it is used in the pulp to modify the starch coating on the paper. Being able to use enzymes to help with industrial processes is highly beneficial to the companies producing these particular products. It increases the rate of production, meaning that these products can be made quicker to meet the higher demand brought about by the ever-increasing population and high consumerism.

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