Genetic Technology

Genevieve Fox

Let's Learn About Genetic Engineering and Recombinant DNA!

Genetic technology is defined as a phrase that covers a bunch of different "activities concerned with understanding gene expression, taking advantage of natural genetic variation, modifying genes and transferring genes to new hosts," by .

We, though, are only talking about two of these activities: genetic engineering and recombinant DNA. We'll talk about what they are, their future uses, and their pros and cons.

What Are Genetic Engineering and Recombinant DNA?

Genetic engineering (GE) is when an organism's genes are directed manipulated by someone, whereas traditional breeding is when an organism's genes are indirectly manipulated. GE can be used on both plants and animals.

Recombinant DNA (rDNA) is a combination of two or more gene sequences that are constructed artificially. It is engineered explicitly to be used for one of multiple rDNA applications. Just like GE, it can used for both animals and plants.


Recombinant DNA has lots of both good and bad effects. Recombinant DNA will give us prevention of genetic diseases, lowered cost of medicines, safer medicines, treatment for pre-existing conditions (like cancer) and improved medicines, livestock, and crops. Unfortunately, the bad things are safety concerns, environment concerns, ethical dilemmas over human treatment, potential for experimental abuse, and germ line treatments going from treating diseases to a method for picking the traits you want in a child.

Genetic engineering also has many applications. According to , "Modifications to the genomes of various plant species have resulted in the development of a number of commercially viable and agriculturally relevant technologies. Farmers employ the use of modified plants that have been engineered to contain herbicide and pesticide resistant genes. This allows for use of chemicals in the farming industry without the risk of harming crops." Also, biologically modified bacteria are being used to get rid of oil (for during oil spills), plastic, and a bunch of other toxic items. There is, however, a downside. Because this process can be unpredictable, new substances can be formed, jeopardizing the health of those with allergies. Also, since plants won't be harmed by insecticides, farmers will spray more and more on them. Not only will pests build up an immunity to insecticides, but we'll end up with an even more polluted environment.

These Men Jump Started The Field Of Genetic Engineering!

Understanding The Processes

Genetic engineering is a pretty straightforward process. There are five steps. We'll use plants for this example. The first is extraction. It's exactly what it sounds like. The scientists extract DNA containing the gene of interest from the desired organism. Step two is gene cloning. They separate the one before-mentioned gene of interest and make thousands of copies of it. In step three, gene design, genetic engineers design the gene to be able to work in a different organism. They cut the gene apart with enzymes and replace separated gene regions. This is done in a test tube. Step four is called transformation, or gene insertion. Since it would be impossible to insert the transgene, because there are millions of cells, tissue culture is used to breed tons of identical plant cells called callus. The new transgene will be added to these cells. The new gene is inserted using various different techniques, but they all have the same goal: transport the new genes and get them into the nucleus without killing it. The genetic engineer's job is finished when the transformed plant cells are regenerated into transgenic plants, grown to maturity in greenhouses, and the genetic engineer collects the seeds. He/she hands the transgenic seeds to the plant breeder - the person responsible for the last step. Last, but definitely not least, is step five, called backcross breeding. Backcross breeding is when, using traditional plant breeding methods, transgenic plants are crossed with the best breeding lines to merge the wanted traits of elite parents and the transgene into one line. The offspring are frequently crossed back to the elite line to get a high yielding transgenic line. A plant with a yield potential close to the current hybrid is the outcome.

There are also five easy-to-understand steps for the producing of recombinant DNA. Step one is that, using a restriction enzyme, the preferred gene is cut from a DNA molecule. In step two, the same restriction enzyme is used. It is used to cut an isolated bacterial plasmid. The same restriction enzyme is used to make sure cut ends are the same base sequence to the ends of the required gene. The third step is a process called ligation. Using the enzyme DNA ligase, the required gene is joined to the plasmid. The resulting recombinant plasmid is returned to the bacterial cell in step four. Finally, in step five, the bacteria reproduce, and the gene is cloned.

Frequently Asked Questions

What animals have been genetically engineered?

Animals that have been genetically engineered are cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, dogs, goats, cats, fish, rats, and mice.

Is a GE animal a clone?

No, there's a difference. Clones are exact copies while GE animals' genomes are purposefully modified.

Are people already eating rDNA biotechnology-derived foods?

Yes, unless they only eat 100% organic foods. This is because most processed food today have some ingredients that are at least partly rDNA biotechnology-derived.


In conclusion, genetic engineering and recombinant DNA are genetic technologies used on both plants and animals. They have easily understandable processes and are used to change nature. Therefore, genetic engineering and recombinant DNA are just like everything else in this life - full of positives and negatives. If we think about implications for the future, we realize that they have the ability to change the world. Whether for better or for worse is determined by how we use them.

All About The Author

My name is Genevieve Fox and I just want a good grade:)