Genetic modification (GM) of crops and how is it done? Know about the types and more

Genetic modification is a method that has been done indirectly for thousands of years through controlled, or selective, breeding of plants and animals.

It’s easier nowadays with the help of Modern biotechnology by which it is faster to target a specific gene for more-precise alteration of the organism through genetic engineering

What is Genetic Modification?

  • The technology of Genetic modification consists of inserting DNA into the genome of an organism in order to produce a Genetically Modified plant.
  • The new DNA is transferred into plant cells after which the cells are grown in tissue culture where they develop into plants.
  • The seeds yielded by these plants will have the new DNA.
  • The genetic makeup of all living organisms determines their characteristics. It also depends on the interaction with their environment.
  • The genetic makeup of an organism is known as its genome in which all plants and animals are made of DNA.
  • The genome encompasses genes, regions of DNA that carry the instructions for making proteins that give the plant its characteristics.
  • For example, the color of flowers is decided by the genes that hold the blueprint for creating proteins involved in producing the pigments that color the petals.

The Process of Genetic Modification:

For the procedure of genetic modification to take place in plants involves adding a specific stretch of DNA into the plant’s genome. This gives it new or varied characteristics.

This could include altering the way the plant grows, or making it safe from a particular disease.

The fresh DNA becomes part of the GM plant’s genome which would be encapsulated in the seeds produced by these plants.

The first step in making a GM plant requires the transition of DNA into a plant cell.

  • One of the methods used to transmit the DNA is to cover the surface of small metal particles with the relevant DNA fragment, and inundate the components into the plant cells.
  • The second method is to use a bacterium or virus. There are many viruses and bacteria that transmit their DNA into a host cell as a natural part of their life cycle.
  • For GM plants, the bacterium most frequently used is called Agrobacterium tumefaciens.
  • The gene chosen is transferred into the bacterium and the bacterial cells then transport the new DNA to the genome of the plant cells.
  • The plant cells that have successfully adopted the DNA are grown to create a new plant after that.
  • This could be possible only because of individual plant cells that have a remarkable capacity to produce entire plants.
  • On some occasions, the procedure of DNA transfer can occur without intentional human intervention.

There are other ways to change the genomes of crops, some of which are:

1.Traditional Crop Modification

The first type is the traditional technique of modifying plants, like selective breeding and crossbreeding, which have been around for nearly 10,000 years. Most of the foods we consume today were initially developed using a combination of traditional methods.

2. Genetic Engineering

The second one is Genetic engineering which is a method that, among other things, facilitates scientists to duplicate a gene with a desired characteristic in one organism and put it into another.

Genetic engineering has been in use since the 1970s and molds the scientific advances we have made in the study of DNA.

3. Genome Editing

Genome editing is a modern method that provides scientists with more precise and targeted paths to develop new crop varieties. Genome editing tools can make it more efficient and quicker to formulate modifications that were previously done through traditional breeding.