Genetic Engineering 4

Examples of Gene Manipulation Herman the Wonder Bull

GenPharm, a California biotechnology company, engineered Herman, a bull that possesses the gene for human lactoferrin (HLF). HLF confers antibacterial and iron transport properties to humans. Many of Herman’s female offspring now produce milk containing HLF, and GenPharm intends to build a herd of transgenic cows for the large-scale commercial production of HLF.

Wilt-Proof Flowers

Ethylene, the plant hormone that causes fruit to ripen, also causes flowers to wilt. Researchers at Purdue have found the gene that makes flower petals respond to ethylene by wilting and replaced it with a gene insensitive to ethylene. The transgenic carnations they produced lasted for 3 weeks after cutting, while normal carnations last only 3 days.

Weevil-Proof Peas

Not only has gene technology afforded agriculture viral and pest control in the field, it has also provided a pest control technique for the storage bin. A team of U.S. and Australian scientists have engineered a gene that is expressed only in the seed of the pea plant. The enzyme inhibitor encoded by this gene inhibits feeding by weevils, one of the most notorious pests affecting stored crops. The worldwide ramifications are significant as up to 40% of stored grains are lost to pests. Super Salmon!

Canadian fisheries scientists have inserted recombinant growth hormone genes into developing salmon embryos, creating the first transgenic salmon. Not only do these transgenic fish have shortened production cycles, they are, on an average, 11 times heavier than nontransgenic salmon! The implications for the fisheries industry and for worldwide food production are obvious.

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