Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only T&Cs apply

Find out more

Intervention on the genomes. Part 3

Genetic engineering refers to the modification, manipulation, or direct changing of an organism’s genes using biotechnology.
At the very end we have to recognize one thing that is very clear in genetics: we all are mutants, we all are transgenic. We are mutants because from our parents to us there has been mutations; we can make a rough accounting of that knowing the mutation rate which is in the order of ten to the minus eight, we know the amount of DNA, the number of bases in our genome, and this means that in general we would expect in the order of thirty new mutations from our father and in order of thirty from our mother, we all are mutants.
We are different from the previous generation there has been genetic changes, this genetic changes are very strong in some kinds of elements which have a mutation rate very high like the case in which we have different genes of the same family similar to them that may really change in their numbers, the case of colour-blindness we saw is one of that which we have a high mutation rate and meaning that lots of people have this new mutation. At the same time, we are transgenic, if someone calls you transgenic, so, is just a description in the sense that among all these transposons, these parts of the genome that jump from one place to the other in every generation, they change place.
So, these pieces sometimes they are conservative in the sense that one piece goes from one place to the other sometimes one piece replicates and goes to another place and in our genome we know very well how this happens and this happens in large amounts. And we all have seen consequences of that in these regions that go from one place to the other because when they get inserted in the other place may have some effects that were discovered already long time ago.
So, here we have some of these pieces of DNA that jump from one place to the other in our genome and seeing that is simple in corn in which all the colours you see in the grains of corn discovered by professor McClintock were due to these mutations caused by this changing of these pieces. In this way, this is a transgenic in the sense that some genes have been inserted in this place. Nowadays we have a new vision of that because we have genetic engineering techniques.
These genetic engineering techniques they try one very simple thing: to know exactly what, exactly where in the genome. So, the challenge is to take a given DNA sequence, a gene for example, and insert that gene in a genome in order to work in a given way. This is the point.

Genetic engineering refers to the modification, manipulation, or direct changing of an organism’s genes using biotechnology.

This article is from the free online

Why Biology Matters: The Genome and You

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now