A Glossary of Biotechnology Terms

Processing key terminology

Gen up on some key molecular biology and industrial biotechnology terms with our glossary.


Growing an organism in a nutrient medium and in the absence of oxygen.

Batch processing

This is the process of growing living matter in a nutrient medium, in a closed system – such as growing biological molecules or cells in a bioreactor.


This is the chemical product of a chemical reaction in a living organism


This is the process whereby living microorganisms are used to produce valuable products such as drugs, bio-therapeutics, proteins and enzymes in a way which maximises the yield and the purity of the product. Bioprocessing falls into two stages: firstly Upstream and then Downstream.

Bioprocess Containers

Secondary packaging, these rigid containers safely house the single use bags containing valuable and sensitive biomedical products. Different types of containers can be used for storage in the clean room environment or for shipping processed biological molecules.

Bioprocess Totes

ALLpaQ® design and supply folding plastic bioprocess containers to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. These are hygienic, collapsible, stackable and reusable.


This is a vessel for growing or fermenting cell cultures to produce proteins or enzymes, bacteria or cells.


This is the intersection of natural science and engineering – often genetic engineering – for the growth, development and adaptation of biological products through processes controlled under laboratory conditions. Production employs the cells of living microorganisms like yeasts and bacteria, or natural substances extracted from such cells – such as enzymes and DNA.


Therapeutic materials produced using biological means, for the treatment of illness, to stimulate or restore the body’s natural defence mechanisms and immunities, to help fight infection and disease.


This is the smallest functional unit of biological life. All known living organisms are made of cells. Cells are often called the ‘building blocks of life’, but this is something of a misnomer, since Biotechnology often employs the building blocks of cells.


A filtering process in which substances are separated based on their different rates of movement within a liquid mixture.


Growing living organisms in a prepared nutrient medium, in a laboratory environment or on an industrial scale.


To grow a biological organism in a prepared nutrient medium. 

Culture medium 

A nutrient-rich material in which the artificial cultivation of bacteria or other cells can take place in a controlled environment.


The molecule that carries the genetic information for most living systems. The DNA molecule consists of four bases G (Guanine), A (Adenine), T (Thymine) and C (Cytosine) arranged in the famous double-helix around a sugar-phosphate spine.

Downstream bioprocessing

This is the part of the bioprocess where the biological molecules grown in Upstream bioprocessing are purified to ensure they meet the necessary quality standards needed for the end product.


The process of growing microorganisms in a nutrient medium, through the incubation of cells or genetic material in a bioreactor or fermentor.


The apparatus in which bioprocess fermentation takes place. This is a type of Bioreactor.

Force, The

An energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together. 


A segment of a chromosome that encodes the sequence information for the synthesis of a protein or RNA product.

Genetic engineering

This is the process of using recombinant DNA technology to alter the genetic makeup of an organism. Traditionally, this was achieved through selective breeding programmes to favour desired traits. More recently, genetic engineering involves direct altering, mixing and editing of genes. 

In vitro

Literally the Latin phrase for ‘in glass’.  The study of microorganisms, cells, or molecules in a test-tube, instead of in their usual biological environment.

In vivo 

Literally the Latin phrase for ‘within the living’. The study of microorganisms, cells, or molecules in their usual biological environment.


A liquid or gel material containing the nutrients needed for encouraging cell growth.


This is the study of living organisms which can be seen only under a microscope.


Any living organisms which can be seen only under a microscope. Also called microbes.

Molecular Biology

The study of the biological composition, structure, processes, alterations and interactions of cellular molecules.


This is technology, structures, devices and systems which are specifically engineered to function at the nanoscale, which means below 100 nanometers.

Recombinant DNA

A product of molecular biology and genetic engineering, rDNA is created by combining segments of DNA from two or more different genome sources or two or more different sections of the same genome.


This is the reproduction or duplication or creating an exact copy of a strand of DNA. Also known as ‘cloning’.


A bioengineered human being. NEXUS 6 Replicants are superior in strength and agility, and at least equal in intelligence, to the genetic engineers who created them.

Single Use

Single Use Systems (known as S.U.S.) and Single Use Components (S.U.C.) are an increasingly popular technology which have rapidly become an essential ingredient in pharmaceutical production. ALLpaQ’s single use bags are designed to work at optimum efficiency with Totes – ensuring you get a guaranteed performance from your components.


The production of a new substance from the combination of a range of simpler materials after a chemical reaction.


Manufactured compounds, such as drugs, that are manufactured to treat medical conditions until the body’s own immunity and healing can take over.

Tissue culture

Growth of cells in an artificial nutrient-rich medium, such as broth or agar. See also In vitro.


Rigid containers for the storing and valuable and sensitive biomedical media. ALLpaQ® are market leaders in the design and supply of folding plastic bioprocess containers for the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industries, offering the largest worldwide range of custom solutions.

Upstream bioprocessing

This is the first step of bioprocessing and includes the process where cells or microbes are isolated from their source, genetically engineered (if necessary) and grown in Bioreactors. Products then move on to the Downstream bioprocessing.


Literally the Greek for ‘other shape’, this is a genetically engineered biomechanical creature, the reproductive cycle of which requires a host for the parasitic ‘facehugger’ phase to grow to full maturity.


A single-celled fungus that is an important active ingredient in certain forms of fermentation.