Advances and Uses of Genetics Life Sci 4-3-12 What does knowing ...

onwardhaggardBiotechnology

Dec 12, 2012 (4 years and 8 months ago)

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Advances and Uses of Genetics

Life Sci 4
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3
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12


What does knowing about and understanding genetics do for us?


First of all, genes in your body make you what you ARE. They are the blueprints for the
organism. They are what makes

you a human and not an amoeba or a rabbit or a zucchini or a
shark. They have all the information in them that makes you YOU, so when proteins go along
the DNA strands, they can respond in such a way that it creates the organism that it is.


As for geneti
cs as a science, we already know that it helps us to understand genetic diseases, how
to cure and prevent them, and how to alleviate them. But genetics can do so much more for us,
such as:




determination of biological parent(s)



genetically engineered crops

(faster growing/better adapted/tastier crops, etc)



production of insulin and other medicines



DNA fingerprinting



forensics/crime scene investigation


Choosing Traits


Advanced genetic techniques have enabled people to produce organisms
--

from corn or apple
s to
animals
--

with desirable traits. Three methods of producing desirable traits in organisms are:




Selective breeding



Cloning



Genetic Engineering


Selective Breeding


Selective breeding
: the proce
ss of selecting organisms with
desired traits to be
parents of
the next generation.


Two Types of Selective Breeding


Inbreeding


Inbreeding
: cross
ing two organisms with similar
characteristics


Within the process of inbreeding you can even use those in the same

genealogical line. This
process

can be useful if there are already desired traits are carried in the closely
-
related
organisms. Breeding within the same line makes it very likely that those desired traits will also
be carried on to the child, since inbred organisms have alleles that are

very similar to the parents.
However, this also increases the chance that genetic disorders can be passed on.



Hybridization


Hybridization
: crossing two genetically different individuals


This process is used to breed offspring that carry on the best tr
aits from both parents. For
example, if corn with many kernels is crossed with corn that resists disease, the result may be a
hybrid with both desired traits.


Cloning



Clone
: an organism that

has exactly the same genes as
the organism from which it came


Cloning, or creating a genetically identical copy, of an organism has been done. For some
organisms, like some plants
,

cloning is very easy. You simply cut the stem in half and replace the
two stem pieces in water until they develop.


However, the process

to clone animals and even one day humans is very complex. It involves
taking the nucleus of an animal's body cell and using that nucleus to produce a new animal.


This process can easily pass on desired traits that already belong to the parent organism, b
u
t is
very controversial and still studied process.


Genetic Engineering


Genetic engineering
: the
process by which genes from one

organism are transferred into
the DNA of another organism


Genetic engineering can be used to produce medications and to improve food crops. Genetic
engineering at our current abilities, can happen within bacteria and in plants. It has also been
successful in some animals, like cows, as well.


Someday it may be po
ssible to use genetic engineering to correct some genetic disorders in
humans, and we've already started working on it.




Gene therapy
: using genetic

engineering to correct genetic
disorders in humans


Concerns about Genetic Engineering

Some people have c
oncerns about genetic engineering. People fear that genetically engineering
may not be entirely safe. They think that genetically engineered crops may harm the environment
or that gene therapy might cause long
-
term health problems in humans. Also some peop
le are
against it for personal or spiritual reasons.


Learning About Human Genetics


The scientists in the Human Genome Project took on the task of identifying the DNA sequence
of every gene in all the human DNA in one cell of an organism. In May 2006, the

last
chromosome in the human genome (chromosome 1) was sequenced. However, analysis of the
human genome, such as determining the exact location and function of each gene, could take
several decades.


Using Human Genetics for Identification


DNA technology

used in the Human Genome Project can also identify people and show how
they are related. DNA is passed on from parent to child, and in a unique way. Except for
identical twins, no two people have exactly the same DNA "fingerprint." Because of this, we can

use DNA and other technology to identify people and their relationships.


DNA Fingerprinting

Because, in most cases, one person's DNA is like no one else's, it can be used to produce a
genetic "fingerprint." We have found a couple different uses for this
unique passing on of traits
such as:




Crime scene forensics



Paternity tests



Identification of remains


In each of these cases, a small amount of a sample of blood, bone, saliva, skin cells, or other
fluids are the most often used. Tests can be done to isol
ate a particular set of genetic "points" in
the DNA fingerprint that would point to a connection with a particular person.


Limitations

Like all technology, DNA fingerprinting has its limitations. DNA is very fragile and can be
destroyed easily. Also it is

very easy to contaminate a sample with DNA of the tester or another
person. Finally, identical twins have identical DNA fingerprints so we would not be able to tell
the difference.


However, to help, especially in the instance of crimes, actual fingerprin
ts are taken and recorded.
Actual fingerprints are different for everyone, so it can help to further indicate a person of
interest.