The acceleration of (bio)chemical reactions by the use of biocatalysts (enzymes) whereby the activation energy necessary for the reaction is reduced. The biocatalysts involved remain present in their original form after completion of the reaction. Alongside free enzymes, complete cells (bacteria, yeast, fungi) may also be designated as biocatalysts. Enantiomeric or regiospecific reactions which otherwise proceed very slowly or demand high temperatures, pressures and environmentally damaging reagents without the use of a biocatalyst can be implemented under mild conditions of reaction (aqueous media between 20 and 40°C) by applying biocatalysis. In perspective, the use of biocatalysts facilitates the substitution of chemical processes (e.g. in the establishment of chiral syntheses) and increases sustainability in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries in this way.
A biocenosis is a community of all species occurring in a defined habitat. It is characterised by complex interactions.
Bioconversion denotes the transformation of organic energy sources by complete
organisms or isolated enzyme systems. The expression particularly applies
to processes in which solar energy stored in an organic substance (biomass, biogas) is converted into other products by the metabolism of microorganisms – mainly into gaseous sources of energy (e.g. alcohol, methane, hydrogen).
Biodiversity designates the multiplicity of life. It encompasses three levels: diversity of the ecosystems, of the species involved and the genetic diversity of individuals within a species.
An estimated 90 percent of all microorganisms in nature are associated with boundary surfaces forming biofilms and microbial communities in these areas. Such boundary surfaces may be the surface of solid materials, a boundary layer where oil and water are adjacent or at the surface of waters. The thickness of such biofilms may range from a few micrometers up to several centimeters.
In the process of bioleaching - also referred to as biological leaching - insoluble sulfidic metal compounds are oxidized to water-soluble salts with the aid of bacteria. Among other things, bioleaching is used for the extraction of copper. In this case, a solution with copper sulfate is produced from which copper may easily be extracted. This process is equally suitable for the decontamination of soils and sediments polluted with heavy metals.
Biomass consists of the overall mass of organic material in a predefined ecosystem. In other words, it is the sum of the mass of all organisms including dead organisms and organic metabolite products.
A) Biomonitoring is the observation of a situation for any changes which may occur over time. It enables inferring the ecological condition of an area by examining the organisms that live there. Although biomonitoring can occur in any ecosystem, it is most often used to assess water quality of rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands.
B) Biomonitoring is a scientific technique used to sample blood, urine, breast milk and other tissue to assess human exposure to natural and synthetic chemicals.
(modificated after Wikipedia)
High molecular weight straight-chain and cross-linked compounds occurring in nature are designated as biopolymers, formed by the polymerization of monomers (basic building units, individual molecules). Different to chemical polymerization products, biopolymers may be formed by biocatalytic reactions from organisms (plants, animals, microorganisms) and are biologically degradable (biodegradation). With regard to organisms, biopolymers are of outstanding significance as storage substances (e.g. polysaccharides) or in the transference of genetic information (e.g. DNA, RNA). Certain biopolymers, such as dextran, alginate, polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and alkanoate (PHA - phytohemagglutinin) can be produced very efficiently by means of biotechnological processes, in some cases up to industrial scale.
A biosensor consists of a biological component with selective recognition characteristics (biological receptor), and a signal converter (transducer). According to a IUPAC definition and by contrast to biotic sensors or biotests, a biosensor is an internally closed and integrated system in which the biological recognition element is arranged in direct spatial contact with the transducer. It provides specific quantitative or semi-quantitative analytical information. The biological recognition reaction of the receptor is converted to an electronically applicable signal at the transducer. Examples of receptors frequently used in biosensors are enzymes, antibodies, microorganisms or DNA. The transducers mainly applied are to be found in the fields of electrochemistry, optics, mechanics or thermodynamics. Biosensors are used for selective determination of a (specific) analyte in a complex mixture. Fields of application are, for example, medicine, environmental analysis, the food industry and pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries.
Biosyntheses are biocatalytical processes used for the buildup (anabolism) of simple and complex organic compounds (e.g. amino acids, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, proteins, fats and hormones). Biosyntheses may be accomplished by both living organisms and isolated cell components (enzymes). Biosyntheses using microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts, fungi), plant or animal cells are used to an increasing extent in biotechnological processes (so-called White Biotechnology) for the production of industrially significant groups of compounds such as amino acids (e.g. glutamic acid), organic acids (e.g. citric acid, acetic acid), vitamins (e.g. vitamin C), antibiotics (e.g. penicillin), alcohols (e.g. ethanol) and biopolymers (e.g. polyhydroxybutyric acid).
Biotic is the designation of environmental factors, in which the participation of organisms can be recognized. Contrary to this definition, abiotic environmental factors are those in which no organisms participate – e.g. the geological underground, light, temperature and heat.
The biotope is an area of uniform environmental conditions providing living place for a specific assemblage of plants and animals. Biotope is almost synonymous with the term habitat but while the subject of habitat is a species or a population, the subject of biotope is a biological community.