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ARTICLE

The body’s first line of defence

Your body has a two-line defence system against pathogens (germs) that make you sick. Pathogens include bacteria, viruses, toxins, parasites and fungi. The first line of defence (or outside ...

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ARTICLE

Bacterial DNA – the role of plasmids

Like other organisms, bacteria use double-stranded DNA as their genetic material. However, bacteria organise their DNA differently to more complex organisms. Bacterial DNA – a circular chromosome ...

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ARTICLE

The body’s second line of defence

If the pathogens are able to get past the first line of defence, for example, through a cut in your skin, and an infection develops, the second line of defence becomes active. Through a sequence ...

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ARTICLE

E. coli – the biotech bacterium

The bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli for short) is crucial in modern biotechnology. Scientists use it to store DNA sequences from other organisms, to produce proteins and to test protein ...

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ARTICLE

Large intestine function

Recent research has revealed that the large intestine and its resident bacterial population have key roles to play in determining our health and wellbeing. It is much more than just a waste ...

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ARTICLE

How to add foreign DNA to bacteria

Using modern laboratory techniques, it is relatively easy to add pieces of foreign DNA to bacteria. To do this, scientists first package their DNA of interest within a circular DNA molecule (a ...

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ARTICLE

Digestion – breaking the large into the small

Digestion of food involves both physical and chemical processes. Through digestion, large food particles are converted into smaller components that can be readily absorbed into the bloodstream. ...

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ARTICLE

The human digestive system

The human digestive system consists of a long muscular tube and several accessory organs such as the salivary glandspancreas and gall bladder. It is responsible for food ingestion and digestion ...

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ARTICLE

Microorganisms – friend or foe?

We can’t see them. We can’t hear them or feel them, but they are with us. There are 10 trillion (10 x 1,000,000,000,000 or a million million) cells in the average body. For every cell, we have 10 ...

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ARTICLE

Modern biotechnology

The discovery that genes are made up of DNA and can be isolated, copied and manipulated has led to a new era of modern biotechnology. New Zealand has many applications for modern biotechnologies ...

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ARTICLE

Rate of digestion

Digestion of food involves chemical reactions that break up large food molecules into their ‘building block’ components. There are a number of factors that affect the rates of these reactions ...

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ARTICLE

Hormonal control of digestion

It has now been well established that gut hormones have a key role in controlling food intake and energy expenditure. The gut is the body’s largest hormone-producing organ, releasing more than 20 ...

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ARTICLE

Digestion chemistry – introduction

Food plays an extremely important part in the lives of all humans. After ingestion, the food is mechanically broken down into smaller pieces and then chemically digested through the action of ...

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ARTICLE

History of xenotransplantation

Xenotransplantation was attempted unsuccessfully in the early 1900s. Several key research developments over the last 100 years now mean that the first xenotransplant treatments could be available ...

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ARTICLE

Xenotransplantation – introduction

Xenotransplantation is when living cells, tissues or organs are transplanted between species. To be successful in humans, xenotransplants must overcome issues of transplant rejection ...

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ARTICLE

Proteins – what they are and how they’re made

Proteins are the key working molecules and building blocks in all cells. They are produced in a similar two-step process in all organisms – DNA is first transcribed into RNA, then RNA is ...

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ARTICLE

Producing foreign proteins in bacteria

Bacteria can produce foreign proteins from introduced genes, using their own gene expression machinery. Producing proteins in bacteria has greatly simplified the study of how proteins work. It ...

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ARTICLE

Virus strains

A virus is a very simple thing – a coat of protein wrapped around some genetic code (DNA or RNA). It’s not a cell and it’s not living. Hijacking a host cell A virus needs a host cell to be able ...

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ACTIVITY

Spreading diseases

In this activity, students model how a virus spreads through a group. By the end of this activity, students should be able to: explain how viruses are spread practise behaviours that limit the ...

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ARTICLE

Bacteria in biotech – introduction

Find out how and why we use bacteria to improve our lives, and discover how the DNA revolution has led to new uses for bacteria. Making use of bacteria: then and now For millennia, we humans have ...

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