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Biotechnology in Agriculture

by Georgina Cornwall, PhD
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    00:00 Let us now take a look at some of the uses, well this one kind of crosses over with medicine and agriculture. Looking at biofarming, we can take a DNA that codes from molecule that we're interested in treating someone with. We can introduce that DNA into a plant and when that plant grows, it produces that product and we can isolate that plant extract and we can package it in a pill and treat someone with the pill at the DNA level. Really pretty cool stuff. The next thing we could do is looking at agriculture.

    00:42 In agriculture, we can take genes and put them into a plant genome. It is probably a little bit easier even than it would be adding them to humans. We have already looked at this Ti plasmid, the tumor inducing plasmid. Here is an example of where it comes into play. We are creating herbicide resistance. What does means is that we could spray the crop potentially with a herbicide and the plant that we are interested in growing would be resistant to that herbicide, but the weeds near it would not and so we are promoting the growth of that plant. Now what happens is we are inserting the gene of interest, the resistant to herbicide gene into the tumor inducing plasmid and then we are going to culture, introduce that into a bacterial cell and culture the bacterial cell with plant cells and then we can use those plant cells to grow a plant and that plant when sprayed with a herbicide would usually die, but in the case of having this resistance gene introduced it flourishes and so we are selecting for plants that now have a herbicide gene. I don't know there are some controversies surrounding it in the field of genetic engineering genetically modified foods. I don't know how you feel about that, but this is what is going on in the field. Clearly we are probably going to have to address a lot of legislation about these sorts of technologies. What are the long term effects? I am not sure we really know yet. Another example we could look at is in BT foods. You may have heard of BT corn or BT potatoes. Many french fries you have ordered in the fast food restaurant are created from BT potatoes. BT crops are protected against insects because they have a bacterial pesticide gene or insecticide gene introduced into their genome and when they produce their fruits, those fruits, leaves whatever are also resistant to insect pests. The insect pests don’t bother them and thus, we have much higher yields from our crops. There is no doubt that these genetic engineering technologies or GM foods are higher productions, but again lots about the core considerations whether we are looking at it in medicine or in agriculture. Another great technology looks awesome.

    03:21 We are able to create this golden rice. Golden rice is higher in beta keratin than other rice and so when were sending shipments of rice to people who are lacking in beta keratin and creating much more nutrient rich rice, how could that possibly be a bad thing? Again lots of controversies. Another thing we could use it for the final stuff in this game is looking at basically DNA fingerprinting for plants. It is pretty fascinating. We were looking at marker assisted breeding. Previously you could breed plants and then you select once that have the qualities you want. They grow taller. They grow stronger. They grow faster. We hybridize them. We take the ones we want. We cross breed and take the ones we want. Now we don't have to wait for them to reach maturity to know if they have the genetic profile that we are interested in. We can essentially take the cells of young plant and do some DNA analysis of fingerprint and probe for makers of genes that we really want the plant to have very early in its development. So that is speeding up the generation time for producing crops with higher yield etc. Another place we could use it is in farming


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Biotechnology in Agriculture by Georgina Cornwall, PhD is from the course Biotechnology.


    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Collect expressed RNA from both anaerobic and aerobic conditions and generate two cDNA libraries
    2. Compare the bacterial growth characteristics to other bacteria that have similar growth characteristics
    3. Design primers to a specific region of the genome and sequence in both anaerobic and aerobic conditions
    4. Completely sequence the genome of the bacteria in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions
    1. Ti-plasmid ----- Provide protection against crown gall disease in plants
    2. BT cotton ----- Genetically modified organism with insecticidal properties
    3. Golden rice ----- Genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene
    4. Cry toxin ----- Produced by Bacillus thuringiensis against insects
    5. Roundup Ready ----- Genetically modified Glyphosate Tolerant Crops
    1. …the insertion of a foreign gene coding for medically important proteins, such as therapeutic proteins, monoclonal antibodies, and vaccines into the plant cells.
    2. …the insertion of a foreign RNA coding for medically important proteins, such as therapeutic proteins, monoclonal antibodies, and vaccines into the plant cells.
    3. …the insertion of a foreign mRNA for medically important proteins, such as therapeutic proteins, monoclonal antibodies, and vaccines into the human cells.
    4. …the insertion of a foreign gene coding for medically important proteins, such as therapeutic proteins, monoclonal antibodies, and vaccines into the human cells.
    5. …the insertion of a foreign mRNA for medically important proteins, such as therapeutic proteins, monoclonal antibodies, and vaccines into the plant cells.

    Author of lecture Biotechnology in Agriculture

     Georgina Cornwall, PhD

    Georgina Cornwall, PhD


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