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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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The nitrogen cycle

Nitrogen is the most abundant element in our planet’s atmosphere. Approximately 78% of the atmosphere is made up of nitrogen gas (N2). Nitrogen is a crucially important component for all life. It ...

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Gel electrophoresis

Gel electrophoresis is used to separate macromolecules like DNA, RNA and proteins. DNA fragments are separated according to their size. Proteins can be separated according to their size and their ...

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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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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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Pollination and fertilisation

Sexual reproduction is a way of making a new individual by joining two special sex cells, called gametes. In the sexual reproduction of animals and plants, the male and female gametes join to ...

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Bacterial transformation

Bacteria are commonly used as host cells for making copies of DNA in the lab because they are easy to grow in large numbers. Their cellular machinery naturally carries out DNA replication and ...

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Vegetative plant propagation

Plant propagation is the process of increasing the number of plants of a particular species or cultivar. Propagation can be via sexual or asexual means. Over the years, horticulturalists have ...

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DNA extraction

DNA extraction is a routine procedure used to isolate DNA from the nucleus of cells. Scientists can buy ready-to-use DNA extraction kits. These kits help extract DNA from particular cell types or ...

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DNA cloning

DNA cloning is the starting point for many genetic engineering approaches to biotechnology research. Large amounts of DNA are needed for genetic engineering. Multiple copies of a piece of DNA can ...

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DNA profiling

DNA profiling is the process where a specific DNA pattern, called a profile, is obtained from a person or sample of bodily tissue Even though we are all unique, most of our DNA is actually ...

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Restriction enzymes

In the laboratory, restriction enzymes (or restriction endonucleases) are used to cut DNA into smaller fragments. The cuts are always made at specific nucleotide sequences. Different restriction ...

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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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Impacts of biotechnology on society

Biotechnology has helped improve the quality of people’s lives for over 10,000 years. Today’s biotechnologies vary in application and complexity. However, they all have potential to change our ...

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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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Transgenic cows – introduction

Scientists at AgResearch in New Zealand have successfully produced healthy transgenic cows that make modified milk or human therapeutic proteins in their milk. What is a transgenic cow ...

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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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What is silage?

Silage is preserved pasture. Making silage is an important way for farmers to feed cows and sheep during times when pasture isn't good, such as the dry season. Find out how silage is made below ...

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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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Wool fibre properties

Wool’s range of desirable properties make it a valuable material for many different purposes, from high-end fashion to fire-resistant products and heavy-duty carpet. Discover how wool’s unique ...

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Creating different cheese characteristics

Cheese comes in numerous varieties of different styles, textures and flavours, but it’s all made from the same basic ingredient – milk. So what are the differences and how are they created ...

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Ancient biotechnology

Early examples of biotechnology include breeding animals and crops, and using microorganisms to make cheese, yoghurt, bread, beer and wine. Biotechnology can be broadly defined as purposefully ...

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