agrobiotechnology: Modern biological knowledge and
methods that can be applied to human goals in agriculture.
alleles: Different versions of the same
gene at a single locus. For example, there are three versions
of the gene that determines ABO blood type in humans.
allergenicity: The tendency of a substance
to cause allergic reactions.
allergens: Substances that trigger allergic
amplification: The production of many
copies of a DNA sequence.
antibodies: Specialized proteins of animal
immune systems that initiate the body's defense response.
antigens: Compounds that stimulate production
Arabidopsis: Arabidopsis thalliana,
a small plant related to mustard plants.
biochemical: Of or relating to the chemical reactions
that occur in living organisms.
bio-pharming: Production of pharmaceutical
molecules in genetically engineered crops. Synonyms: pharming,
biotech food: Food that is produced using
techniques of modern biotechnology.
biotechnology: Modern scientific knowledge
and methods that can be applied to human goals in biological
Bt: Abbreviation of Bacillus thuringiensis,
a soil bacterium whose spores contain a protein that is toxic
to some insects.
catalyze: Facilitate; trigger; cause a potential action
chromosome: A long section of DNA that
carries important genetic information and that remains distinct
from other long pieces of DNA inside the cell.
cross-pollination: Fertilization of flowers
on a plant by pollen from another plant. The pollen can be
blown by the wind or carried by insects, birds, or other animals.
cultivar: A cultivated variety.
A more or less uniform strain of a crop species, for example,
"Golden Jubilee" corn.
detasseling: Removal of the tassel (the pollen-bearing
structure at the top of a corn plant), either manually or
mechanically. Used as a method to control pollination.
dicot: The group of plants in which germinating
seedlings have two cotyledon leaves, for example, beans.
diploid: Having two complete sets of
electrophoresis: A technique for separating a mixture
of different molecules by causing the molecules to move through
an electric field.
electroporation: A technique for introducing
new DNA into a cell by applying a jolt of electricity to create
openings in the plasma membrane that surrounds a cell.
enzymes: proteins that facilitate biochemical
GE: genetically engineered. Modified using recombinant
gene: a segment of DNA that is translated
gene flow: Transfer of genes from one
population of plants to another, through either pollen drift
or seed mixing.
genetic trespass: The movement of unwanted
genes into a crop by cross-pollination from a crop in a neighboring
genetically engineered: Modified by the
use of recombinant DNA technology. Abbreviated as GE.
genetically modified: Commonly used as
a synonym for "genetically engineered." Abbreviated
as GM. Plant breeders point out that traditional selection
methods also modify the genetic material, but the current
use of GM implies that recombinant DNA technology has been
genome: An organism's complete set of
genus: A classification level of organisms
that includes closely related species; also, the first word
in the two-word scientific name of an organisms, for example,
Zea is the genus for Zea mays (corn).
haploid: Having one complete set of chromosomes.
herbicide: A chemical that kills plants.
hormones: Chemical messengers that are
active at low concentrations and are produced in specialized
cells. Both plants and animals rely heavily on hormones for
signaling in growth and development processes and responses
to the environment.
insecticide: A substance that kills insects.
intron: A DNA sequence found within a
gene that is removed during RNA processing and is not translated
into the gene's protein product.
isolation distance: Distance that separates
one field of plants from another. Used to maintain seed purity
in seed production fields and to minimize cross-pollination
between different kinds of plants, for example, transgenic
crops and organically grown crops.
male sterility: Failure of plants to produce fertile
pollen. Can be the result of naturally occurring genes, genetic
engineering, or mutation.
monocot: The group of plants in which
germinating seedlings have one cotyledon leaf, for example,
non-selective herbicide: A chemical that kills all
or nearly all plants. The contrasting term is "selective
herbicide," a chemical that kills some plants but not
outcrossing: Cross-pollination, or fertilization of
flowers on a plant by pollen from another plant.
plant-made pharmaceuticals (PMP): Chemicals with pharmaceutical
applications produced in genetically engineered crops.
promoter: The part of a gene that acts
as an on/off switch to control when and where in the plant
the gene product is made.
recombinant DNA technology: The techniques by which
scientists insert, delete, or change stretches of DNA in living
recombination: Reciprocal exchange of
DNA between two members of a chromosome pair that occurs during
meiosis. Also called crossing-over.
restriction enzyme: An enzyme that cleaves
double-stranded DNA at a particular sequence.
self-pollination: Fertilization of flowers by pollen
from the same plant. The contrasting term is cross-pollination
selective herbicide: A chemical that
kills plants in certain classes but not others. The contrasting
term is "non-selective" herbicide, a chemical that
kills all or nearly all plants.
transcription: The process by which the DNA blueprint
is copied to create RNA.
transformation: The transfer and incorporation
of DNA into an organism.
transgene: A gene that is introduced
into an organism's genome during the genetic engineering process.
The transgene is usually from a source distantly related to
the host organism.
volunteer: A plant that germinates from a seed left
behind in the field from a previous crop.
Page last updated : October 15, 2003
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