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Biochemical Organic Machine

  1. May 15, 2008 #1

    This is probably a really easy question, but I need help in finding the answers to it. Let's say I have a some raw chemical A (example: water) and I want to make it into a chemical B (example: something with an -OH). However, I don't want to use any chemical means but do everything via an organic lifeforms (example: yeast).

    Let's say I also want this lifeforms to also be able to create different types of alcohols. One way seems to be to genetically modify the life form while the other method is to change the environment that life form is in so that it leans towards the chemical I want made.

    What is this study called? Is there a specific branch of it or is a mis-mash of Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Biochemistry, Genetics? Is there a single book somewhere which might explain how this is done?

  2. jcsd
  3. May 16, 2008 #2


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    Could fall under the Biotechnology umbrella
  4. May 16, 2008 #3


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    Fermentation science?
  5. May 16, 2008 #4


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    Probably wouldn't have much versatility with such an approach - "lifeforms" are pretty specific - and usually genetic engineering manipulates what the organism naturally produces and not actually change the organism.
  6. May 17, 2008 #5


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    When dealing with something such as yeast, microbiology would be the field. When dealing with ways to force microorganisms (not necessarily yeast to produce alcohol, but generically any microorganism and any chemical product) to produce chemical substances of interest (such as for mass production of pharmaceuticals for commercial reasons), you're talking about biochemical engineering (sort of a melding of chemical engineering and biochemistry or microbiology or genetic engineering). The thing you'd be using to manipulate the environment of the organisms you'll use for such production would be considered a bioreactor.

    And, if you had additional questions to ask about the processes involved here, depending on the question you had in mind, either the Biology forum or Materials & Chemical Engineering forum would potentially be suitable (in addition to possibly some questions here in Chemistry).
  7. May 17, 2008 #6
    At this stage, trying to categorize certain aspects of science under specific fields is disingenuous because the distinctions are so vague and cross disciplinary. What you described is achieved through methods of recombinant DNA, much like how mass production of growth hormone achieved economic feasibility. Recombinant DNA is a technique taught under the hospices of molecular biology but the applications extend to biotechnology, biochemistry, bioengineering, and systems biology. Clear cut distinctions don't really work anymore.
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