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Genomics and Biology. Biotechnology and genomics.
Plant Genetic Engineering

The selective, deliberate transfer of beneficial genes from one organism to another to create new improved crops, animals or materials. Examples of genetically engineered crops include cotton, maize, sweet potato, soy beans etc. Genetically modified plants and seeds are created by the process of genetic engineering, which allows scientists to move genetic material between organisms with the aim of changing their characteristics. All organisms including plants are composed of cells that contain the DNA molecule. Molecules of DNA form units of genetic information, known as genes. Each organism has a genetic blueprint made up of DNA that determines the functions of its cells and the characteristics that make it unique.

Prior to genetic engineering, the exchange of DNA material was possible only between individual organisms of the same species. With the advent of genetic engineering in 1972, scientists have been able to identify specific genes associated with desirable traits in one organism and transfer those genes across species boundaries into another organism. For example, a gene from bacteria, virus, or animal may be transferred into plants to produce genetically modified plants having changed characteristics. Thus, this method allows mixing of the genetic material among species that cannot otherwise breed naturally. After decades of research, plant specialists have been able to apply their knowledge of genetic engineering to improve various crops such as corn, potato, and cotton.

Rapid strides in this field of biotechnology has allowed and opened new vistas of opportunities to scientists and companies to explore the possibilities of use of the technology in farming. Today even in developing countries, more and more land is being planted with genetically modified varieties of an ever-expanding number of crops. Research efforts are being made to genetically modify most plants with a high economic value such as cereals, fruits, vegetables, and floriculture and horticulture species.

Application of genetic engineering in plants has allowed the following benefits to mankind:

Developing plants that are resistant to diseases and pests.

Increasing the shelf life of fruits and vegetables.

Producing plants that possess healthy fats and oils and that have increased nutritive value thus improving the lifestyle.

Producing soy beans with a higher expression of the anti-cancer proteins naturally found in soy beans.

Increasing the yield per hectare and leading to increased productivity.


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