During the last decade, tremendous progress has been made in the area of plant cell, tissue & organ culture. In vitro techniques constitute an important component of biotechnology, and have the potential not only to improve the existing cultivars, but also for the synthesis of novel plants & early release of high – yielding plants resistant to various diseases, pests, stresses & temperature.
Green revolution of recent years has been the result of efforts that led to the improvement & better selection of species of agronomic interest. Some specialists feel that biotechnology is the second phase of green revolution, studies are already in progress to obtain crop plants having higher photosynthetic efficiency, improved fixation of atmospheric nitrogen, increased nutritional quality & greater tolerance of salinity, alkalinity, acidity, deficiency of nutrients & stresses. Wide hybridization through embryo & ovule culture both at the interspecific & intergeneric levels have been achieved in a number of crops through the culture of the hybrid ovules & embryos. In vitro fertilization techniques have also been employed to overcome incompatibilty. Haploids produced through anther culture & their diplodization have resulted in the release of varieties in crops such as wheat & rice.
The term biotechnology is composed of two words – bio (Greek-bios-means life) and technology (Greek technologia – means systematic treatment). In other words, it is the science of applied biological processes. Accordingly to the oxford Dictionary, technology is the “Scientific study of the practical or industrial arts”.
Spinks (1980) defined biotechnology as, “the application of biological organisms, systems or processes to manufacturing & service industries”.
European Federation of Biotechnology (1981) defined biotechnology as, “the integrated use of biochemistry, microbiology & engineering sciences in order to achieve technological (industrial) application of the capabilities of micro-organisms, cultured tissue cells & parts thereof”.
In the report Biotechnology : A Development plan for Canada (1981) biotechnology is defined as “the utilization of a biological process, be it microbial, plant or animal cells, and their constituents, to provide goods & services”.