The utilization of genetic machinery of life for production of any special substance is called gene technology or genetic engineering. The genetic modification of microorganisms, so vital for their utilization in the production of useful biochemical, can be brought about by simple recombination or by complex genetic manipulations. Some of the techniques are:

Isolation of Genes: Appropriate sequence of genes is directly obtained from genome of normal cell or from other cells. This is made possible by cleavage and denaturation of DNA extracted from the cells.

Synthesis of Genes: This is done by chemical methods. Dr. Hargobind Khorana reported this in 1970.

Recombinant DNA: Breakage of DNA molecule at a desired position results in a new gene product which is called as recombinant DNA (r-DNA). The receiving organism is said to be transgenic. Using this technique we can isolate and clone single copy of a gene or a DNA molecule into an indefinite number of copies, al identical.

Gene Cloning: Isolation of gene and replication of a single copy of gene or DNA segment into an infinite number of copies, all identical, is known as gene cloning. This becomes possible because vectors like plasmids and phages reproduce in their usual style even after insertion of foreign DNA. This inserted DNA will also replicate faithfully with parent DNA. Recently extensive use of newly discovered polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has also been made forgene technology.

Hazards of Genetic Engineering

  1. If a wrong DNA segment is inserted and if it gets expressed, it can cause new diseases in human beings.
  2. Can aid in biological warfare.
  3. Genetical modification of existing species/re-creation of extinct species can wreak havoc.
  4. Scientists are prone to making mistake-new strains of bacteria, fauna etc. can come out of labs which can be hostile to human beings.
  5. Only 29 plant species have been satisfying 90 percent of man’s food needs. Playing around with these 29 species and ignoring others will only hurt the biodiversity/ genetic diversity.
  6. Even in a single species, Genetic Engineering leads to elimination of varieties-if some new disease comes up, the entire species may be wiped out.



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