Bioengineering, or genetic engineering is an altering of genes in a particular species for a particular outcome. It involves taking genes from their normal location in one organism and either transferring them elsewhere or putting them back into the original organism in different combinations. Most biomolecules exist in low concentrations and as complex, mixed populations which it is not possible to work efficiently.
This problem was solved in 1970 using a bug, Escherichia coli, a normally innocuous commensal occupant of the human gut. By inserting a piece of DNA of interest into a vector molecule, a molecule with a bacterial origin of replication, when the whole recombinant construction is introduced into a bacterial colonies all derived from a single original cell bearing the recombinant vector, in a short time a large amount of DNA of interest is produced. This can be purified from contaminating bacterial DNA easily and the resulting product is said to have been “cloned”.
So far, scientists have used genetic engineering to produce, for example: – improve vaccines against animal diseases such as footrot and pig scours; – pure human products such as insulin, and human growth hormone in commercial quantities; – existing antibiotics by more economical methods; – new kinds of antibiotics not otherwise available; – plants with resistance to some pesticides, insects and diseases; – plants with improved nutritional qualities to enhance livestock productivity.