1) Genetics and Genetic Engirneering Terminology
Break the class into small groups of 3–5 people, and ask each group to complete the crossword puzzle. All of the answers are vocabulary words used in the class(es) on genetics and genetic engineering of plants.
Note: The three "i" words are identify, isolate, and insert
1. The assembling of amino acids into a protein using messenger RNA, ribosomes, and transfer RNA
3. A circular, self-replicating hereditary element that is not part of a chromosome; used in recombinant DNA
experiments as an acceptor and vector of foreign DNA
4. The third “i” in genetic modification
6. The production of a complementary strand of RNA from a segment of DNA
9. A soilborne bacterium used in genetic modification
10. The double-stranded, helical molecule that contains genetic code information
12. Genetic constitution of an individual or group; a class or group of individuals sharing a specific genetic makeup
13. External, visible physical characteristics of an organism determined by the interaction of its genotype with the environment
15. The second “i” in genetic modification
16. Transcribed from DNA and involved in translation to proteins
17. Describes a phenotypic trait that is expressed in diploid organisms only if both parents contribute the trait to the progeny
18. The structure that contains the genes of an organism
1. The concept that even specialized cells contain all of the genetic information for an organism and, therefore, that any cell should be able to regenerate into any tissue or into an entire plant
2. A type of enzyme that cleaves DNA at a particular base sequence
4. The first “i” in genetic modification
5. The units within an organism that control heritable characteristics; the units are organized on chromosomes
7. A nitrogen-containing organic compound composed of units called amino acids
8. Describes a phenotypic trait that is expressed in hybrid progeny of diploid organisms even when contributed by only one of the parents
11. The process by which a DNA molecule makes an exact copy of itself
14. Any of one or more alternative forms of a gene
After giving small groups 10–15 minutes to complete the puzzle, have the whole class fill it in with contributions from different groups. Review the meanings of the terms and their roles in the genetic engineering of plants.
2) Transgenic Plants
- Is the term GMO (genetically modified organism) appropriate for genetically engineered organisms? Suggest a more appropriate term.
- Consider some of the following applications of genetic engineering:
- Beneficial genes from wild relatives to crop plants
- Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) toxin genes to protect crops from insects
- Glyphosate-resistance genes to crop plants (Roundup Ready crops)
- Plant virus genes into plant genomes for virus resistance
- Salt-tolerance genes so crops can be watered with brackish (somewhat salty) water
- Genes that are precursors of vitamin A into rice (“golden rice”) to help prevent blindness in Asiancountries or other genes that improve plant nutrient levels
Which of these applications sound acceptable to you, and which make you uneasy? Why?
Organize your concerns into these three categories:
Note: Many of the topics related to genetic engineering are interesting topics for class discussions and student papers. Among them are social/ethical aspects of companies patenting genes, rights of farmers to save seed, and transfer of GM traits to surrounding crops through pollen—a particular problem for organic crops.