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BiotechnologyInformation Series

Principles of Biotechnology

essentially are determined by the Modify Plants and information in DNA. animals.) The biotechnology is that DNA from any by human society since the beginning of structure of DNA mol-ecules contains organism will function if it is trans- recorded his-tory in such activities as information that is used by cells as a ferred into any other organism! baking bread. biotechnology has been practiced chromosomes. T) and usually contain between 1.000 letters. But trying to mate vide scientists with a spectacular vision a cow with a horse. Combining DNA from different commercial application of living or.Biotechnology Defined Principles of Biology Except for the sequence and number of letters in each recipe. the founding However. tremendous scientific and commercial interest in biotechnology. G. The sharing of definitions of bold-print words). The “words” for A narrower and more specific the DNA recipe. sexual reproduction can of many new companies. or breeding food crops or characteris-tics of any living thing Using Biotechnology to domestic animals. would not be successful. two animals are differ-ent breeds of the These laboratory techniques pro. brewing alcoholic “recipe” for the organism.1. that is. C. All living organisms are com-posed DNA from any organism is chemi-cally fined as “using living organisms or their of cells that contain a sub-stance called and physically the same. may contain modified organisms with a combina-tion their DNA molecules” (see glossary for between 4 million (simple bacteria) and of traits from the parents. are Animals definition of biotechnology is “the derived from a 4-letter alphabet (A. cattle. (See Fig. and provide tech-nologists in many fields with the tools to implement exciting commer-cial applications. The entire recipe.000 existing organisms (plants. which and 100.) results in involves the deliberate manipula-tion of called the genome. A Holstein cow can be financial re-sources among established mated with a Hereford bull because the compa-nies and universities. the beverages. insects.” As DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) in the great scientific discoveries of such. This 3 billion (human) letters or more. Biotechnology can be broadly de. . called genes. and the occur only between individuals of the redirection of research efforts and same species. DNA information takes place naturally definition implies a set of laboratory through sexual re-production and has techniques developed within the last 20 been exploited in plant and animal years that have been responsible for the breeding pro-grams for many years. bacteria. of the design and function of living organisms. ganisms or their products. a different species of animal. One of the products for commercial pur-poses. same species. etc. All life is composed of cells that contain DNA.

Figure 1 North Central Regional Extension Publication NCR #487 .

or therapy. resistant to insect called transgenic. Genetic underway to correct an enzyme transfer of DNA is accom-plished using engineering is being used in the deficiency called ADA in children. growth hormone for 3) Transgenic Plants into any chosen organism. or pig specific DNA genes for many desirable Genetic Engineering gene. bacterial. heart attack victims. and the repaired cells are then transfer DNA between any living cells returned to the patient’s body. (See Fig. This process is engineering are abundant and The first clinical gene therapy is called genetic engineering and the increasing rapidly in number. animal. It provides a method to DNA. Agrobacterium. The genes for these traits have been .Figure 2 What’s new since 1972 is that Products of transgenic bacteria that have received scientists have been able to iden-tify the the appropriate human. An organism individuals with pituitary dwarf-ism. 1) Pharmaceuticals Virtually any desirable trait found in Human drugs such as insulin for nature can. either direct injec-tion or the production of pharmaceuti-cals. usually carried on a plasmid or virus. —plant. electroporation. in principle. and the devel-opment of defective DNA in bone marrow cells is particle gun transformation transgenic plants and animals. gene Bone marrow cells are removed. or express modified drugs like the growth hormones. etc.) traits and transfer only those genes. versions of fruit or flowers have been bovine or porcine somatotropin. cow. insect. are grown and tested in outdoor test plots being produced by the fermentation of since 1987. Specific applications of genetic 2) Gene Therapy into an-other organism. supplemented with a copy of normal techniques. as well as animal or viral pests. 2. Transgenic plants that are more modified by genetic engineering is and tissue plasminogen activator for tolerant of herbicides. be transferred diabetics.

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or fungal infections.delivered to the plants from other hair or body fluids). Several companies have designed and are testing transgenic mam-mals that produce important pharmaceuticals in the animal’s milk. 4. bacterial. Conse-quently. breeds. or map the locations of specific genes along the vast length of the DNA molecules in the cells. and tissue plasminogen activator that are currently produced by fermenta-tion of transgenic bacteria may soon be obtained by milking transgenic cows. or serve as a Identifying Genes unrelated plants. bacteria. (See Fig. 3. Individuals within any given species. or hybrid line can usually be identified by minor differences in their DNA se-quences—as few as one difference in a million letters can be detected! Using the techniques of DNA fingerprinting and PCR (poly-merase chain reaction) scientists can diagnose viral. growth hormone. connect suspects with DNA evidence left at the scene of a crime (in the form of Figure 3 . DNA fingerprints can be generated. breed. Any individual organism can be uniquely identified by its DNA fingerprint. most transgenic animals are designed to assist researchers in the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. Products such as insulin. this fingerprint can be used to determine family relation-ships in paternity litigation. distinguish between closely related individu-als. or goats. each has a unique DNA recipe. Using Biotechnology in Diagnostic Applications Since each living creature is unique. or viruses pedigree for seed or livestock One important aspect of by genetic engineering techniques. match organ donors with recipients in transplant programs.) genetic engineering projects is to (See Fig.) 4) Transgenic Animals Presently. Identifying Organisms By using RFLP technology (restriction fragment length poly- morphism). sheep.

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the molecule DNA. Diagnosing Infectious Dis-eases and Genetic Disorders Diagnosis of infectious dis-eases is 3. technology. and many other infectious diseases. The 1. Maps are being developed for humans. and the DNA is extracted. The DNA band pattern is a profound application of the new DNA transferred to a nylon membrane. swine. The DNA is cut into fragments impor-tance. PCR. allows earlier intervention and 5. The fragments are then separated into bands by electrophoresis through an agarose gel. The process begins with a genetic maps are generated by blood or cell sample from which statistical analyses. speed of the PCR technique. THE PROCESS OF DNA FINGERPRINTING city. and livestock. based on a 4-letter genetic code. mice. cattle. 6. the 1) All living organisms are resultant visible pattern is the composed of cells that contain DNA FINGERPRINT. The chemi- cal structure of DNA contains information. that cells use as a “recipe for life. in addition to the inherited disorders like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. wheat. In the same way that a visitor might use the state. and other plants or animals with commercial or research 2. The DNA probe binds days or weeks by traditional methods. When developed.” The functional units of information. to specific DNA sequqences on the The greatly increased sensitivity and nylon membrane. the “words” . and house number to locate a friend’s house. corn. AIDS. PCR assays will soon be washed away leving the unique available to diagnose diseases of crops DNA band pattern. Tuber-culosis. RFLP. as compared with traditional methods. DNA sequencing. using a restriction enzyme. papillomavirus. A radioactive DNA probe is hours by the PCR technique rather than introduced. The excess probe material is treatment. street. genetic engineers use genetic “maps” to locate genes. identify the DNA gene that controls a particular trait. are diagnosed within 4. The radioactive DNA pattern is Summary transferred to X-ray film by direct exposure.

” of letters) is unique to each individual. are called genes. This organisms is chemi- . the organisms is the same. except engineering” and the organisms that DNA “recipe” (sequence and number for the sequence and number are produced are called “transgenic. Figure 4 2) DNA from all living transfer process is called “genetic cally and physically the same.of the recipe. traits can be trans.” These different sequences account for Therefore. of letters in the “recipe. Though the DNA of all “fingerprints” to distinguish genes for those traits. 3) Organisms can be the diver-sity of life observed in nature ferred from one organism into uniquely identified by their DNA and are the basis for using DNA another by transferring the DNA sequences.

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May 8. and public policy issues in substance within cells that carries the molecules in response to temperature biotechnology. letter alphabet (A. Edited by Glenda D.D. which describes the shock to transfer DNA into the cells of patterns of different (polymorphism) Understanding DNA and Gene an organism. fungal diseases using PCR technology. Entire issue devoted to molecular RFLP—restriction fragment length biology.between any two individuals. Can be done with into another that results in a genetic Agrobacterium (most dicots). X-rays. electric field. Webber. depending on which enzymes and from a chromosome or genome. organism into another. Gene—a functional unit of DNA. hybrid. Plasmid—a small. bacterial. Inc. Available from the is used to transfer genes from one chromosome with restriction enzymes Vermont Biotechnology Group. commonly used are plas-mid DNA into broadleaf plants. DNA—deoxyribonucleic acid. folded DNA called transformation. Electroporation—using an electric polymorphism. called transfor-mation. October. information. molecule and protein. the most Chromosome—a cellular struc-ture versatile of a series of procedures For Further Reading comprised of a long. found in every cell of that to contain DNA from an external organism. and separating the pieces by Phone (802) 223-7222. source. ultraviolet light. Glossary Mutation—a change of one of the Vector—any DNA structure that is used Agrobacterium—a natural bacterium “letters” in the DNA “recipe” caused to transfer DNA into an organ-ism. transfer DNA into the cells of an transferring DNA from one organism organism. transgenic organism. one of several procedures sizes of DNA (fragment length) that Cloning by Karl Drlica. the production of a chloride (bacteria). 2nd Edition. breed. devoted specifically to scientific. or individual. and T). “letters” in a very long piece of DNA Disease. one “word” in the DNA recipe. Betsch. heater. 1992. or the hybrids. basis of diagnosis of viral. 1992. G. enzymes (restriction). phone 1-800-524-0328.” Science. such as tobacco. or marked with probes. breeds. vectors or viruses.” Science. the which rapidly duplicates specific DNA economic. result from cutting with restriction Wiley and Sons. the “fingerprint” for each used to find a specific sequence of “Molecular Advances in Genetic species. electrophoresis to generate a unique Probe—a very short piece of DNA pattern. probes are used. calcium modification. or natural processes.” The DNA sequence is Written by David F. 1985. Iowa State University Office of Transformation—a procedure to Genetic engineering—the process of Biotechnology. Sequence—the order of “letters” in the Genetic code—the information DNA “recipe. Scientific American. contained in DNA molecules that the chemical structure that contains Biotechnology Training Programs. Bio/Technology. “The Promise and Pitfalls of Molecular Genetics. See DNA finger-printing above. Genetic map—the locations of electroporation (any organism). 1990. inherited by offspring from parents. A monthly journal PCR—polymerase chain reaction. . Ph. species. Particle gun—a gun that shoots DNA into the cells of an organism. determining DNA fragment sizes by by joining pieces of DNA from two separating them in a gel placed in an or more organisms. Electrophoresis—a lab technique for Recombinant DNA—DNA formed July 10. tomato. C. or soybean. etc. For subscription “recipe” for the organism and is changes in a com-puter-controlled information. circular DNA that Biotechnology—An Activist's DNA fingerprinting—cutting a DNA Handbook. most that can be used to transfer DNA genes by chemicals. scientists describe on the basis of a 4.. They are also the specific genes along a chromosome particle gun (any organism). Transgenic—an organism that has Genome—the entire DNA “recipe” for been modified by genetic engineering an organism.

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Department of Agriculture.C.North Central Regional Extension Publications are subject to peer review and prepared as a part of the Cooperative Extension activities of the 13 land-grant universities of the 12 North Central States.S. in cooperation with the Extension Service .U. D. The following uni-versities cooperated in making this publication available: . Washington.

WI 53715 608-262-3346 Kansas State University North Dakota State University Lincoln University Umberger Hall Manhattan. Paul. Ag. Rm. Comm. Bulletin. ND 58105 Jefferson City. Dept.* Iowa State University 119 University of Nebraska University of Wisconsin Printing & Publ. Murray St. Bldg. NE 68583-0918 30 N. of Ag. 245 IA 50011-1050 515-294-5247 Lincoln. MN 55108 612-625-8173 . Communications Ag. 402-472-3023 Madison. MO 65101 701-2137-7881 314-882-2792 University of Minnesota 3 * Publishing state Coffey Hall St. Morrill Hall 900 Moreau Drive KS 66506 913-532-5830 Fargo. Box 5655. Ames.

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