Department of Biotechnology

The biotechnology is concerned more generally with procedures for technical implementation of biological processes. In addition, we teach and conduct research in the field of environmental engineering, cell culture technology, biochemistry, molecular biology and bioinformatics. (Studying Biotechnology)

Computational Biology

Still remember the EHEC pandemic in summer 2011? A time when no one dared to eat salad sprouts and when canteens temporarily didn’t sell curcumber salad? EHEC (entero-haemorrhagic Escherichia coli) and HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome) had been on everyone’s lips till autumn 2011. In total the year 2011 registered 855 cases of HUS and 2.987 cases of acute gastroenteritis. 18 EHEC-patients and 35 HUS-patients died. It took no more than a few weeks to analyse the genome of the pathogen, variant O104:H4 of the bowel bacterium Escherichia coli. Subsequently, diagnostic methods could be developed. This pandemic serves as a prime example showing the capability and high potential of biotechnology, especially of the interaction of experimental and computational biotechnology. The pathogens first were isolated, enriched and sequenced via experimental methods and afterwards their genome was analyzed at the computer. Students of the bachelor degree course biotechnology and the master degree course molecular biotechnology/bioinformatics could have been able to easily participate in finding the pathogens, because both experimental and computer-assisted biotechnology was emphasis in their study.  In February 2013 the 2nd edition of the text book "Computational Biology" by Professor Röbbe Wünschiers (professional group biotechnology, Hochschule Mittweida) was published by the Springer Verlag and one chapter deals with the 2011 pandemic. In its basic structure, this text book is addressed to all life scientists who want to gain basic know-how in handling, analysis and visualization of large data volumes. Besides an introduction in Linux and the programming with AWK and Perl, the database system MySQL as well as the data analysis and visualization software R is introduced to the reader. Finally, with the help of case studies the book shows how the computer can support the analysis of biological data. Professor Diethard Tautz, leader of the Max Planck Institute for evolutionary biology, is prefacing: "I am convinced that this book should be the required reading for every molecular biologist. It will of course be particularly helpful for those dealing with genomics data, but even if genomics is currently not on your experimental agenda, handling large datasets and doing proper statistics is a basic qualification that cannot be underestimated in our discipline today." Professor Alfred V. Aho from the University of Columbia in New York, one of the developers of the program language AWK, feeds back: "There are many things I liked about this book. First, the material on Unix/Linux is presented in a no-nonsense manner that would be familiar and appealing to any Unix/ Linux programmer. It's clear the author has internalized the powerful Unix/Linux building-block approach to problem solving. Second, the book is written in a lively and engaging style. It is not a turgid user manual. Finally, throughout the book the author admonishes the reader to write programs continuously as he or she reads the material. This cannot be overemphasized – it is well known that the only way to learn how to program effectively is by writing and running programs."

[Wünschiers (2013) Computational Biology - A Practical Introduction to BioData Processing and Analysis with Linux, MySQL, and R. Springer Verlag, ISBN 978-3-642-34748-1, 449 p. 80 illus., 66 in color]

Article in CLB

Biochemicals Pathways - Prof. Dr. R. Wünschiers co-author of the standard work

Horror and fascination together seems the enormous amount of metabolic reactions taking place in the cell. Substance A is converted with substance B to substance C through enzyme X; B was prior built through enzyme Y…and so on and so on. Plotting all these reactions is far from easy. In the 1940s, biochemist D.E. Nicholson prepared the first continuous enzyme reaction scheme, prior being described by Embden, Meyerhof, Parnass und Cori: the glycolysis. He was inspired by H.C. Beck's London subway map from 1933. In 1968, the German biochemist Gerhard Michal created a wallpaper of all metabolic pathways which is quite famous among experts. This wallpaper was first distributed by Boehringer Mannheim, later by Roche Diagnostics and was constantly updated till 2005 (In 1999 a book edited by Gerhard Michal was published). In September 2012, the 2nd edition of this standard work of biochemistry was published by Dr. G. Michal und Prof. Dr. D. Schomburg: "Biochemical Pathways An Atlas of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology". Prof. Dr. R. Wünschiers participated in this mammoth project by reworking 7 chapters. After all the dedication he came up with the following: metabolism in all its diversity remains a horror - but it outweighs the fascination.

Biotechnology Mittweida pro Darwin

Engineers of the technical school and the University of Mittweida demonstrated their abilities in intelligent design on several occasions. Lectures, seminars and practical courses give students of Biotechnology an understanding of clever biological systems. Having its designer in one lecture seems terrific. But does he exist anyway, the intelligent designer of cells and organisms like we know them from today? Although Darwin laid the groundwork for the understanding of how organisms evolve, creationists still believe in the one intelligent designer. Especially in the USA, creationists show enormous initiative for spreading their conviction, happening already in the classrooms. In Germany, the theory of evolution is not really present in the curricula. We are still hit hard from the misunderstanding and the resulted misuse of the evolutionary theory in the Third Reich (eugenics) and the GDR (Lysenkoism as neo-Lamarckism). And where there is nothing, there is room for false teaching. This is why the Volkswagen foundation started the funding initiative “evolutionary biology” in 2005. One fruit is the recently published book “Evolutionary Biology” (Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, ISBN 978-3-8274-2785-4). The publishers applied a completely new concept: writing tandems of evolutionary biologists/geneticists and biology teachers describe close to research didactic edited topics of modern evolutionary research. Dr. Röbbe Wünschiers, professor for biochemistry/molecular biology at the University of Mittweida, attends together with Annuschka Fenner to the chapter “from the remains of Lucy to the genome of Neanderthal” and describes therein the influence of moleculargenetic biotechnology on the understanding of human evolution. Even modern biotechnology is based on Darwin’s principles of mutation and selection. Thus, the wise saying from the evolution scientist Dobzhansky also holds for biotechnology: "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

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