Biotechnology Dictionary

If you are in the business of biotech, the alphabet soup of similar-sounding or re-purposed terms can be quite confusing. Principle Point offers our biotech and medical dictionary of more than 1,000 terms, which will be updated periodically as needed. Please let us know if you think we should add a term or if an existing definition needs clarification.


beta-Lactamase is an enzyme that degrades ampicillin; thus, the presence of its gene in a bacterium imparts ampicillin resistance.


Bioaugmentation is a technique in bioremediation whereby bacteria increasingly decompose pollutants.


Biodiversity describes the difference in genetic makeup and environmental factors for interrelated organisms.


Bioenrichment involves adding nutrients or oxygen to speed the microbial breakdown of pollutants.


Biofilms. See Microbial mats.


Biologics are biological agents, such as vaccines, that give immunity to disease.


Biomass describes the total dry weight of all organisms in a particular population.


Bioremediation involves the use of bacteria to remedy environmental problems, such as oil spills.


Biotechnology is the study and laboratory manipulation of living organisms, especially at the molecular genetic level, to produce useful products for health care or food production.

Biotic stress

Biotic stress describes the living organisms able to harm plants, including fungi, bacteria, viruses, and insects. See Abiotic stress.


Bt. See Bacillus thuringiensis.


Capsid. See Coat protein.


A carcinogen is a substance that induces cancer.


Carcinoma is a malignant tumor arising from epithelial tissue (either skin or outer layers of internal organs).


A catalyst is a substance that speeds a chemical reaction by lowering its activation energy, typically by reducing the stability of a reactant or increasing the stability of an intermediate, with the catalyst itself being neither consumed nor altered during the reaction.

Catalytic antibody (abzyme)

A catalytic antibody, or 'abzyme,' is an antibody capable of catalyzing a chemical reaction by stabilizing the high-energy transition state intermediate of the reaction.

Catalytic RNA (ribozyme)

Catalytic RNA, or ribozymes, are characterized as RNA molecules that are able to cleave an RNA substrate.


A cation is a positively charged molecule or atom.


cDNA is 'copy' DNA that is assembled from an RNA template with reverse transcriptase.  Since DNA is more stable than RNA in aqueous buffers, cDNA is often used to archive and analyze gene expression libraries (mRNA) as a cDNA library.  See cDNA library.

cDNA library

A cDNA library is a set of complementary DNA copies synthesized from a template of cellular mRNAs using reverse transcriptase. Since DNA is more stable than RNA in aqueous buffers, cDNA is often used to archive and analyze gene expression (mRNA) as a cDNA library.  See cDNA.


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