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Genetic Engineering Techniques

What is Genetic Engineering?

Genetic engineering is the modifying of an organism’s germ line with genetic engineering techniques to create a desired trait in the germline. The germline is the primary unit of life, composed of the hereditary material (genes) from one or more parents. The organism which gets the genetic altered DNA from one or more parents is known as a genetically modified organism (GMOs). The modified organisms are then used to develop diverse living organisms.

Genetic engineering techniques


Genetic engineering techniques

There are two broad methods for genetic engineering technique in biotechnology. These methods are known as primary and secondary genetic engineering.

Primary genetic engineering (gene editing)

In primary genetic engineering techniques, an organism is transformed with the desired genetic alteration using the appropriate tools. The tools include genetic engineering technology elements and the like. This method is known as primary gene editing.

Secondary genetic engineering (Recombinant DNA technology)

In the second genetic engineering techniques, no external genetic editing is required to achieve the genetic editing. This method is known as secondary gene editing. In this type of genetic engineering technique, the genetic editing can be achieved by inserting specific DNA sequences specifically designed to alter the target organism’s attributes or traits.

One example of this second technique is the use of recombinant DNA technology. This technique enables the production of vaccines capable of eliciting a strong immune response in susceptible individuals. Many countries have invested in this technology, making vaccines more obtainable to certain strains of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Through this form of genetic engineering technique, developing new vaccines become easier.

There are many companies that manufacture vaccines using genetic engineering techniques. The most common genetically engineered organisms are insect and plant viruses. These vaccines have been produced through genetic engineering methods with the assistance of inserted genes into the modified cells or organisms. Some specific examples of insect genetically engineered organisms are the Materia virus which is responsible for producing malaria mosquitoes and the Q fever virus which is responsible for producing a similar disease in sheep. These engineered organisms have successfully passed all initial safety trials and are now commonly used in the treatment of these two diseases.

Gene transfer technique

Another genetic engineering technique is the gene transfer technique. This form of genetic engineering has been used to create viruses that can be transferred between various species. Examples of such species include the influenza and HIV viruses. Through this form of gene therapy, infected individuals can fight against their diseases by providing their bodies with the necessary antibodies.

The third and the last genetically engineered plant species are the genetically engineered herbicide. This is used to protect highly productive and highly vulnerable herbaceous plant species. An example of herbicide used in this instance is the Glyphosate. Glyphosate is a highly effective substance that is known to repel various insects like aphids, plant viruses, fungi and bacteria. It is therefore economically important plant species for controlling these kinds of insects.

Applications of genetic engineering techniques

There are still many other forms of genetic engineering being developed for several applications. However, these three remain to be the most commonly used techniques today. As time goes by, we will surely be seeing many more applications of this technique.

1. Biomedical and health sciences industries

Apart from providing useful solutions to many plant-related problems, the genetic engineering technique also provides significant benefits to several biomedical and health sciences industries. Some of these industries include pharmaceutical, biotechnological and nutritional industries. One of the major benefits of using this technique is that it increases the frequency of generation of new cells and organisms in our body.

2. Tissue culture

In this genetic engineering method, genetic elements specific to the target application or tissue culture are introduced into the host organism. The target applications are usually tissue culture like those used for producing vaccines. Then the introduced genetic elements are put into the target organisms’ nucleus in the form of nucleic acids. Nucleic acids are bases for making the genetic material attaches itself to the target organism’ tissues.

Methods of Genetic Engineering techniques

In order to make the insertion of genetic material efficient, several different methods are employed.

1. Electroporation

One way is through electroporation wherein the genetic engineering anchor DNA is inserted into the host genome in the form of a tiny piece of DNA tape.

2. Chemical synthesis

Another is through chemical synthesis where DNA molecules of appropriate size are attached to the target DNA sequence using ligase.

3. AGP technology

Finally, adenoic acid based fluorescent protein (AGP) technology is employed where colorless (wavelight) particles of different sizes are inserted into the genetic engineering anchor DNA.

Steps of Genetic Engineering

In order to get hold of the best results in genetic engineering, several steps are involved. First, the DNA target tissues and cells need to be grown in culture. Next, specialized tools and technologies must be employed for proper and complete isolation and preparation of the DNA samples from the target cells. Then only the samples are subjected to various experimental procedures with the help of specialist equipment and techniques. For details of steps; Read Which two techniques are used in biotechnology? Why?




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