Major Innovations in the History of Biotechnology

  • "Cells" & Microscope

    "Cells" & Microscope
    Robert Hooke coined the term "cells" & Anton Van Leeuwenhoek observed the first micro-organism due to the invention of the microscope.
  • Gregor Mendel

    Gregor Mendel
    Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk working with pea plants, discovered the simple laws of inheritance of traits that allowed one to predict the outcome of crosses with certain traits.
  • Louis Pasteur

    Louis Pasteur
    Louis Pasteur described the scientific basis for fermentation, wine making, and the brewing of beer, established the science of microbiology, and proposed the Germ Theory, claiming that micro-organisms were responsible for infectious diseases.
  • Nucleic Acid

    Nucleic Acid
    Johann Miescher found nucleic acid in white blood cells from pus in bandages. This later led scientists to belive that DNA might be inheritable material of an organism.
  • Genes on Chromosomes

    Genes on Chromosomes
    Studying fruit flies, Thomas Hunt Morgan discovered that genes were on chromosomes.
  • Fred Griffith

    Fred Griffith
    Fred Griffith, using mice, proved that genetic material could be moved from one strain of bacteria to another.
  • Penicillin

    Sir Alexander Fleming isolated penicillin from a fungus. Many of his ideas are used to develop biotech drugs today.
  • Chargaff

    Chargaff showed that in DNA the number of units of adenine equaled those of thymine and the number of units of cytosine equaled those of guanine.
  • Beadle & Tatum

    Beadle & Tatum
    Beadle and Tatum proposed the "One gene produces one enzyme" hypothesis.
  • Avery, McCarthy, & McLeod

    Avery, McCarthy, & McLeod
    Avery, McCarty, & McLeod established that indeed DNA was in the hereditary material that was transferred.
  • Hershey & Chase

    Hershey & Chase
    Using their famous "blender experiment," Hershey and Chase proved viruses replicated using DNA & confirmed the role of DNA as the hereditary material.
  • Rosalind Franklin & Maurice Wilkins

    Rosalind Franklin & Maurice Wilkins
    Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins established through X-ray crystallography that DNA was indeed a double helix.
  • DNA structure

    DNA structure
    Watson & Crick discovered the structure of DNA
  • Plasmid DNA

    Plasmid DNA
    Hayes discovered plasmid DNA, circular pieces of DNA found in bacteria.
  • Walter Gilbert

    Walter Gilbert
    Walter Gilbert discovered the mechanism of gene expression through his study of messenger RNA.
  • Arber, Nathans, & Smith

    Arber, Nathans, & Smith
    Arber, Nathans, & Smith discovered bacterial restriction enzymes that cut DNA.
  • Khorana & Nirenberg

    Khorana & Nirenberg
    Khorana & Nirenberg discovered the 64 codons (the triplet code of 3 bases in DNA) that code for the 20 amino acids making up proteins.
  • Vinograd

    DNA plasmids were isolated and purified by Vinograd.
  • Escherichia coli

    Escherichia coli
    Madel & Higa were responsible for the first tranformation of the bacterium Escherichia coli
  • Cloning experiments

    Cloning experiments
    Clonging experiments were conducted by Boyer and Cohen
  • Genentech

    Genentech, the world's first genetic engineering company, was founded
  • Paul Berg

    Paul Berg
    140 scientists met to draw up guidelines for work with recombinant DNA in micro-organisms. Paul Berg was a key organizer.
  • sequence DNA

    sequence DNA
    Sanger and Gilbert found a way to sequence DNA. Given an unknown piece of DNA, they were able to read the correct order of bases of adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine.
  • RFLP

    Botstein found that one could be identified by the pattern made of on'es DNA through a digest by different enzymes. This DNA fingerprint was called a Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP).
  • synthetic insulin gene

    synthetic insulin gene
    Boyer inserted a synthetic insulin gene into E. coli.
  • In vitro

    In vitro
    Louise Joy Brown was born, the first human baby resulting from in vitro fertilization, in which sperm and egg are joined in a petri dish. The fertilized egg is later implanted in a womb.
  • Patent life forms

    Patent life forms
    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that genetically altered life forms can be patented. This resulted in a hige startup of biotech companies.
  • Transgenic Animals

    Transgenic Animals
    Ohio University scientists made the first transgenic animals.
  • Eli Lilly Company

    Eli Lilly Company
    Eli Lilly Company placed a human insulin gene inside bacteria.
  • Agrobacterium-mediated gene transfer

    Agrobacterium-mediated gene transfer
    Schell, Chilton, Van Montagu, Fraley, & Horsch transformed plants with Agrobacterium-mediated gene transfer.
  • polymerase chain reaction

    polymerase chain reaction
    Kary Mullis invented polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify DNA in the lab.
  • RFLP in DNA profiling

    RFLP in DNA profiling
    Jeffries applied RFLP in DNA profiling to the study of criminal cases.
  • automated fluorescence sequencer

    automated fluorescence sequencer
    An automated fluorescence sequencer was invented, speeding up the labor-intense process.
  • Gene Gun

    Gene Gun
    Genes were moved into an organism through the use of a gene gun.
  • NIH

    NIH revised safety guidelines for recombinant DNA to include plants grown in greenhouses and animals raised in barns.
  • RNA interference

    RNA interference
    Andrew Fire and Craig Mello discovered RNA interference, silencing of genes, in the worm C.elegans.
  • Monoclonal Antibody

    Monoclonal Antibody
    Kohler, Milstein, and Jerne used monoclonal antibody (MAb) technology.
  • yeast artificial chromosomes

    yeast artificial chromosomes
    Maynard Olson and colleagues at Washington University invented "yeast artificial chromosomes," or YACs, which are expression vectors for large proteins.
  • Dolly the sheep

    Dolly the sheep
    Ian Wilmut cloned Dolly the sheep from an adult cell of ewe at the Roslin Institute in Scotland.
  • DNA microarray technology

    DNA microarray technology
    DNA microarray (DNA chip) technology, looking at the expression of all the genes of an organism at one time on a microscope slide or silicon chip, was developed.
  • automated DNA sequencer

    automated DNA sequencer
    Dabiri and Garner invented an automated DNA sequencer that had a capability of sequencing 76,800 base pairs per hour, 5-30 times faster than existing sequencers. Technology like this greatly sped up Human GEnome Project.
  • riboswitch

    Ron Breaker coined the term riboswitch for part of an mRNA molecule that can regulate its own activity and therefore gene expression.
  • completion of the Human Genome Project

    completion of the Human Genome Project
    Announcement was made of the completion of the Human Gnome Project (initiated in 1990) by Francis Collins and Craig Venter. The project provided the ability to find genes and gave rise to the sequencing of other gnomes.