Genetic Engineering: Blend of Technology and Biology

Genetic engineering is a branch of biology that uses technology to introduce change in species by means of genetic manipulation. This is known as genetic engineering. This technology has been in practice since the 1950s and is used in many laboratories all over the world. The process involves the use of DNA base pairs as the basis for the alteration of living organisms. When this process is well controlled, the traits of the modified organisms can be changed and introduced into the wild.

Genetic engineering with insect species

One of the most common genetic engineering techniques used in genetic engineering with insect species. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, genetic engineering was first used to introduce genetic modifications into insect species. These insects include the golden lacewing, the house fly, the tobacco plant, the tobacco mosaic virus, and the cotton bollworm. With the continuous developments in this field, other species of animals and plants are expected to be genetically altered in the near future.

Genetically engineered mosquitoes are another example of gene manipulation used to protect human beings from dangerous insects. Mosquitoes do not usually die after being infected with the Asian disease called malaria, but they do not reproduce normally. The insertion of an insecticide into the mosquito’s body at the time of conception can control the population of these insects, making them less likely to attack people.

Genetically altered plants

Another field of genetic engineering involves the creation of genetically altered plants. One of the most prominent examples of using genetic engineering in agriculture is the planting of Bt crops, which are genetically engineered to resist herbicides. Bt crops are widely used around the world. However, this particular application sparked controversy because of the herbicide, Bt, which is synthetic and not found naturally in plants. This created a huge problem because of the possibility of Bt eating its intended food – the engineered plant.

person in process of genetic engineering

Use of gene therapy

Other genetic engineering technologies involve the use of gene therapy. This technique involves the introduction of a foreign gene into an organism. This is done by inserting the foreign gene into the genome of the target organism. Because of this, the inserted genes affect the structure and activity of that target organ, creating an unnatural change in the targeted organism.

Gene manipulation

Gene manipulation is also used to create laboratory animals that perform specific tasks. For instance, the creation of sheep that are able to detect heart disease has been one of the aims of genetic engineering. When laboratory animals are created with a mutation in their DNA, they can serve as the perfect test subjects for gene therapy. These modified animals will then be injected with a defective gene that causes heart disease, and the engineered animal will thus be able to detect the defective gene. Once this gene is inserted into the animal’s genome, the animal will be able to correct the defect in its DNA, curing the heart disease.

Recombinant DNA technology has opened new doors for genetic engineering, allowing for the engineering of living organisms. With this method, scientists have the potential to manipulate many genes at once to create completely new living organisms. While this technology has generated a lot of excitement among those in the field of genetic engineering, there have been ethical concerns raised by those opposing it. One of the major ethical concerns is whether or not the modified organisms should be released into the environment, given the fact that the modified DNA has the potential to alter the way they work in the natural world.

Way to bring about controlled genetic changes

In situations where the modified organisms escape from their hosts and end up in the environment, this will lead to the reintroduction of the modified genes into the host genome, altering the way they function once within the host genome. The concern is that once the engineered bacteria or viruses escape back into the environment, they will begin to alter natural genetic codes, potentially changing the traits of the targeted organisms. The worry is that if this occurs, some genetic diseases will begin to surface that were unknown before the insertion of the foreign gene into the host genome. However, there is still much research that needs to be done before this potential problem can be addressed. For now, genetic engineering techniques such as viral RNA restriction and gene transfer remain on the table as ways to bring about controlled genetic changes without introducing foreign organisms into the environment.