Amino Acid

The building blocks of proteins, comprising a carboxyl group, an amine group, and a variable side chain.


Standardised ‘biological building blocks’ used for the construction of components that carry out specific tasks, which can in turn be used to construct more complex biological systems.


Biotechnology is a broad area of biology, involving the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make products. Depending on the tools and applications, it often overlaps with related scientific fields


The term biosecurity refers to the protection, control of, and accountability for high-consequence biological agents and toxins, and critical relevant biological materials and information within laboratories to prevent unauthorized possession, loss, theft, misuse, diversion, or intentional release.


A threadlike, gene-carrying structure found in the nucleus. Each chromosome consists of one very long DNA molecule and associated proteins.


A unit of three successive nucleotides on messenger RNA which codes on the ribosome for a single amino acid.

Computational biology

Computational biology involves the development and application of data-analytical and theoretical methods, mathematical modeling and computational simulation techniques to the study of biological, ecological, behavioral, and social systems

 Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)

A nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms with the exception of some viruses. The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information.

 DNA synthesis

A technology that enables the de novo generation of genetic sequences that specifically program cells for the expression of a given protein.

DNA sequencing

DNA sequencing is the process of determining the nucleic acid sequence – the order of nucleotides in DNA. It includes any method or technology that is used to determine the order of the four bases: adenineguaninecytosine, and thymine


A class of proteins serving as catalysts, chemical agents that change the rate of a reaction without being consumed by the reaction.


To “express” a gene is to cause it to function. A gene which encodes a protein will, when expressed, be transcribed and translated to produce that protein. A gene which encodes an RNA rather than a protein (for example, a rRNA gene) will produce that RNA when expressed.             


A discrete unit of hereditary information consisting of a specific nucleotide sequence in DNA (or RNA, in some viruses).


The complete genetic composition of an organism (e.g., human, bacterium, protozoan, helminth, fungus), contained in a chromosome or set of chromosomes or in a DNA or RNA molecule (e.g., a virus).


The complete genetic composition of an organism (e.g., human, bacterium, protozoan, helminth, fungus), contained in a chromosome or set of chromosomes or in a DNA or RNA molecule (e.g., a virus).

Genetic engineering

 It is a set of technologies used to change the genetic makeup of cells, including the transfer of genes within and across species boundaries to produce improved or novel organisms

Gene regulation

The process through which a cell determines—through interactions among DNARNA, proteins, and other substances—when and where genes will be activated and how much gene product will be produced

Messenger RNA (mRNA)

A type of RNA synthesized from DNA in the genetic material that attaches to ribosomes in the cytoplasm and specifies the primary structure of a protein.


The organic processes (in a cell or organism) that are necessary for life

Molecular biology

is the branch of biology that concerns the molecular basis of biological activity in and between cells, including molecular synthesis, modification, mechanisms and interactions.

Molecular engineering

Molecular engineering is an emerging field of study concerned with the design and testing of molecular properties, behavior and interactions in order to assemble better materials, systems, and processes for specific functions


Genetic change that can occur either randomly or at an accelerated rate through exposure to radiation or certain chemicals (mutagens) and may lead to change in structure of the protein coded by the mutated gene. Nucleotides

The building blocks of DNA and RNA, consisting of three components: a phosphate group, a C5 sugar and a base (purine or pyrimidine). (The Health Council of the Netherlands 2008)


Oligonucleotides are short DNA or RNA molecules, oligomers, that have a wide range of applications in genetic testingresearch, and forensics.


An organism capable of causing disease.


A small cellular inclusion consisting of a ring of DNA that is not in a chromosome but is capable of autonomous replication.


An enzyme, such as DNA polymerase or RNA polymerase, that catalyzes the synthesis of a polymer from its subunits.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

A scientific technique in molecular biology to amplify a single or a few copies of a piece of DNA across several orders of magnitude, generating thousands to millions of copies of a particular DNA sequence.

Precautionary Principle

Precaution means that the absence   of scientific certainty – or controversely the scientific uncertainty – as to the existence or the extent of a risk should henceforward no longer delay the adoption of preventive measures to protect the environment.


A three-dimensional biological polymer constructed from a set of 20 different monomers called amino acids.

Recombinant DNA

Genetically engineered DNA prepared by transplanting or splicing genes from one species into the cells of a host organism of a different species. Such DNA becomes part of the host’s genetic makeup and is replicated.

Ribosomal RNA (rRNA)

The most abundant type of RNA. Together with proteins, it forms the structure of ribosomes that coordinate the sequential coupling of tRNA molecules to the series of mRNA codon

Ribonucleic acid (RNA)

A biologically important type of molecule that consists of a long chain of nucleotide units. Each nucleotide consists of a nitrogenous base, a ribose sugar, and a phosphate. RNA is very similar to DNA, but differs in a few important structural details: in the cell, RNA is usually single-stranded, while DNA is usually double-stranded; RNA nucleotides contain ribose while DNA contains deoxyribose (a type of ribose that lacks one oxygen atom); and RNA has the base uracil


A cell organelle constructed in the nucleolus, functioning as the site of protein synthesis in the cytoplasm. Consists of rRNA and protein molecules, which make up two subunits.


As a noun, the sequence of a DNA is a buzz word for the structure of a DNA molecule, in terms of the sequence of bases it contains. As a verb, “to sequence” is to determine the structure of a piece of DNA; i.e. the sequence of nucleotides it contains.

System Biology

Systems biology is the computational and mathematical analysis and modeling of complex biological systems. It is a biology-based interdisciplinary field of study that focuses on complex interactions within biological systems, using a holistic approach (holism instead of the more traditional reductionism) to biological research.


The process of creating a complementary RNA copy of a sequence of DNA. Both RNA and DNA are nucleic acids, which use base pairs of nucleotides as a complementary language that can be converted back and forth from DNA to RNA by the action of the correct enzymes.


The reaction that converts RNA-templated information to protein. This reaction is catalyzed by ribosomes.

Transfer RNA (tRNA) An RNA molecule that functions as an interpreter between nucleic acid and protein language by picking up specific amino acids and recognizing the appropriate codons in the mRNA