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New genes can be introduced to organisms at a very early stage of development, while the organism is still a ball of stem cells. This means the cells will multiply with the new gene incorporated in their genome.
If a single copy of a new gene was added to one of your cells, say a skin cell on your hand, would this change the genetics of the other cells in the rest of your body?
To modify the behaviour of a single bacterium, we can transfer a gene into it using a vector, for example a plasmid or a virus. Only one gene is needed in this case. Why?
Genetic engineering is the process of taking genes from one organism and adding it to another organism.
This could be from one human to another...
for example to replace a damaged gene that causes a disorder with a gene that works (a form of gene therapy).
Sometimes a species is modified to be a transgenic organism. What do you think this means?
Plants and animals are complex organisms made of many different types of cells: Leaf cells, blood cells, liver cells, root hair cells etc. Do they each contain their own set of genes to perform just their own function?
The genome of an individual is determined at what point in their life?
At the very start of life, each organism is made of only a few cells. Each cell is identical and capable of becoming any cell in the body. What do we call these cells?
To change the genetics of a single-celled organism is not hard with modern genetic modification techniques.
To change the genetics in a multi-cellular organism, however, is almost impossible once it is grown!
It would require the ability to add the new gene to millions of cells all over the body.
To genetically modify an organism it is easiest to...
The sooner in life the new genes are added, the fewer cells need to be modified.
These will divide and pass on the new gene to all the cells in the body as it develops.
Do you think stem cells are more or less likely to accept new genetic material than adult cells?
Imagine you want to produce a plant that is resistant to insect attack. When would be the best time to add the insect attack resistant gene to the plant?