What is Biotechnology?

What do new biofuels, vaccines, and fungus-resistant crops have in common? Biotechnology! Since the term biotechnology was coined by Karl Ereky over 100 years ago, the market it represents has continued to expand.

Biotechnology is the manipulation of living organisms to develop products, perform industrial tasks, and solve technological problems. Biotechnology has multiple segments:1,2,3,4

  • Gold biotechnology: uses bioinformatics or computational techniques for data analyses and formulating biological solutions; includes nanotechnology
  • Blue biotechnology: focuses on the use of sea resources for manufacturing products
  • Green biotechnology: concerned with the application of biotechnology in agriculture, including micropropagation, transgenic plant design, and genetic engineering for beneficial traits like pest resistance
  • Yellow biotechnology: involves insects
  • White biotechnology: industrial biotechnology; includes genetically engineering microorganisms to produce certain chemicals and using enzymes as industrial catalysts
  • Red biotechnology: biotechnology in medicine and pharmacology; designing and manufacturing vaccines and antibiotics, creating artificial organs, and developing hormones and stem cells
  • Gray biotechnology: environmental applications and biodiversity maintenance; removing pollutants
  • Violet biotechnology: the ethical and legal aspects of biotechnology

As the biotechnology market continues to grow, biotech companies worldwide seek employees of all education levels. From entry-level biotechnicians who require certification to independent principle investigator PhDs, opportunities in government, academic, clinical, and private industry are almost limitless. Biotechnology roles also provide high levels of job satisfaction,5,6 claiming the top spot in 2011 for the happiest jobs in America.

Why Teach Biotechnology?

Before joining the biotech workforce, students must master specific techniques like pipetting, gel electrophoresis, and PCR. They will also need critical thinking and communication skills as well as the ability to apply biological, chemical, physical, and mathematical theories to real-world problems.

A biotech education can encourage scientific literacy, research skills, and career awareness. Employees with scientific backgrounds, business backgrounds, or knowledge of both are needed in these areas. Biotechnology courses offer students the knowledge and experience to make informed decisions about their futures. For students who excel in both science and mathematics, biotechnology can be a great way to combine the two interests.7


  1. Types of Biotechnology Companies, bizfluent
  2. Industrial biotechnology — biological resources for industrial processes, Bioeconomy BW
  3. A Review Green biotechnology — a help to the environment, Pharmatutor
  4. Everything you need to know about Red Biotechnology, ExploreBiotech
  5. Biotechnology Listed as a Top Career Choice for Job Satisfaction, The Biotech Insider
  6. The Happiest Careers in America, Forbes
  7. Biotechnology Education in Schools, EJ Biotechnology

The above information is the property of Ellyn Daugherty, founder of the San Mateo Biotechnology Career Pathway (SMBCP) and author of Biotechnology: Science for the New Millennium, Second Edition, 2017. For more information, visit