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What is Genetic Engineering?

Biotechnology is basically the advancement in the field of biology more like the next generation of classical biology. One of the most interesting subject of biotechnology is genetic engineering which helps one to obtain a desired product by manipulating certain living organisms. Thus by genetically modifying an organism, one can control its trait to obtain a characteristic  that is aspired.

Source: Canva


Genetic engineering has a major role in the field of biotechnology. It is the technique in which genes responsible for a particular trait is inserted into a vector. The vector is then inserted into the target host organism and is allowed to multiply. Thus, creating a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism).

So basically genetic engineering is the manipulation of the genome of an organism.

The following component terms are required to be understood in order to know what genetic engineering is:

Desired gene

A gene is a fragment of DNA that is responsible for expression of particular charecteristics. A desired gene is the one which controls the trait we want to incorporate into an organism. 

Vector

A vector basically acts as a 'transporter' of the desired gene. It may consist of a plasmid or a bacteriophage. A plasmid is a circular DNA which is the most commonly used vector.

Endonucleases

Endonucleases are the class of enzymes responsible for cutting the DNA at specific sites. The plasmid vector and  the host DNA is cut using endonucleases. So basically endonucmeases act as molecular scissors which cut the host DNA at specific sites.

Ligases

Ligases are the class of enzymes responsible for joining two fragments of DNA. Ligases are used to join the desired mean into the host  DNA.

Host organism

A host organism is the organism in which a desired characteristic is to be incorporated. After the process of genetic engineering, the host organism is turned into a genetically modified organism (GMO).

Process of Genetic engineering

Genetic engineering is the technique of transferring one gene from a particular organism to the other organism. Suppose a trait from an organism A is to be incorporated into an organism B then the genes responsible for the desired characteristic from organism A is incorporated in organism B by means cutting the genes responsible for desired trait from the genome of organism A by means of enzyme restriction endonuclease. This gene is then ligated into a suitable vector with the help of enzyme ligases. A vector basically acts as a transporter of gene. The vector carrying the required genes is then incorporated into organism B (host organism) wherein it gets multiplied and expressed. Thus, the desired trait of organism A can be incorporated into organism B by the means of Genetic engineering techniques.
The following reaction shows the process of genetic engineering:

Desired gene+ Vector→ GMO
                                       
Thus, the desired gene along with the vector is incorporated into the host organism wherein it is multiplied and the desired gene is expressed. Thus, the host organism shows the desired charecteristic.
For e.g. if we want to incorporate a gene responsible for the development of pink colour in the flowers of a plant say plant 1 into a plant possessing white flowers say plant 2 then it is possible only through genetic engineering. The gene responsible for the expression of pink colour in flowers from plant 1 is incorporated into plant 2 that possesses white flower. Thus, a genetically modified strain of plant 2 is developed which grows pink coloured flowers instead of white ones.          

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