Need help on HS project on genetic engineering
szcooley at dale.ucdavis.edu
Tue Dec 20 13:03:24 EST 1994
Joseph Hoffman (joehoffman at delphi.com) wrote:
: Michael Cooley <szcooley at dale.ucdavis.edu> writes:
: >: I'm fourteen years old, and within the next couple of weeks have a report
: >: due in biology class about genetic engineering and future technologies that may
: >: be used in this field. The report is actually for a contest,
: >: National Toshiba Exploravision Contest. I have already gained a lot of
: >: information from the Cornell Theory Center as well as encyclopedias, pamphlets,
: >: etc., but a lot of resources are already obselete. Any extra help from a kind
: >: soul out there would be much appreciated. I still have a few questions, and I
: >: don't expect anyone to answer them all, but again, any help would be great.
: >: Thank you very much.
: >: Joseph Hoffman
: Thanks for replying. I read in a very obsolete source that about twenty-five
: years ago, scientists had created a bacterium, a newer version of and old
: bacterium called Pseudomonas. This bacterium had a built-in appetite for
: petroleum, and scientists were looking to begin using it to help clean up
: oil spills. Is this bacteria in use today?
: Also, is there anything keeping scientists from cloning animals and other life
: forms except ethical values. I know that cloning is in use today, cloning
: plant life and other sinpler organisms, but have they done anything more with
: the technology?
: (I apologize for all of the typographical errors. I'm unfortunately in a
: hurry.) Thanks a lot.
: Joseph Hoffman
Ok, first we need to clear up a few problems with terminology. Scientists
have never created a bacterium. The term created is like made; it does
not describe what they did. A bacterium is a very complicated organism
and it's alive. We do not (and probably never will be able to) create
life. I don't know what exactly was done with this bacterium, but it was
probably fairly mild in comparison to today's standard. I have heard its
is still being used. I will post the question.
The word, cloning, is problematic. Strictly it means creating something
exactly like the original. In another sense the term is being loosely
used to designate anything which is created by recombinant techniques.
Using the strict form of the word it is very difficult or impossible to
clone most life forms. With some plants its easy, and in fact has been
done for hundreds of years. In this case you simply take a cutting of the
plant and re-root it. A slightly more high tech approach is to grow the
plant in culture and then allow the tissue to create new stems and roots
and eventually a plant. With animals its much harder because the
different tissues of the animal have changed (differentiated) from the
embryo and its harder to get the skin, or other tissue, to start acting
like a fertilized egg. There was recently a discussion on the Internet
regarding the possibility of doing this. The closest I have heard of is
in frogs. In this case they started with a frog egg (unfertilized) and
using a lazer destroyed the nucleus. Then by microinjection they inserted
the nucleus from a intestinal cell of a different frog. The egg then used
this genetic material to clone the frog which donated the intestinal
cell. This all was done ten or more years ago. I would not be surprised
to learn that it has been tryed on other animals. I suspect its
In the more casual use of the word "clone" it is common now to geneticly
alter complex organisms. The scientific journals are full of cases where
they have inserted pieces of DNA into mice or fruit fly or plants or
fungi or nematodes, etc. But it is not what I call cloning.
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