Learn What A Genetically Engineered Organelle Does

By Nancy Burns

An organelle is a small structure that performs a particular function in a cell. It is fixed firmly and deeply within the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells and prokaryotic cells. An organelle can be described as an organ of the cell. This structure performs functions that enable a cell to work in the right way. Examples of the functions of organelles include generating energy controlling reproduction and growth of cells. Photosynthesis and cell respiration also occur within the organelles. Examples of the organelles found in the cells of animals and plants are vacuoles, ribosomes, lysosomes, Golgi complex, chloroplast, endoplasmic reticulum and nucleus.

Modifying organelles through the genetic engineering process is possible. Genetic engineering allows scientists to alter the structure of genes. This is a deliberate modification that involves manipulating the genetic material of an organism directly. A genetically engineered organelle can give cells a new function. One or several traits that were not found in the organism in the past can be seen.

There are multiple copies of organelles in cells and they have their own DNA. When an artificial chromosome or foreign gene is inserted into an organelle, the cell multiplies it, leading to the production of new cells with many copies of the inserted gene. In certain situations that can be induced, the cells of plants also raise the number of copies of their organelles. For this reason, the genetically engineered organelles can secure many copies of the inserted DNA, leading to a high level of expression of the engineered genes.

One significant advantage of genetically engineering an organelle, especially the plant chloroplast is making the engineered plants produce more. This enables farmers to grow more food at an affordable rate. When food is more affordable, it is easier to feed hungry populations around the world.

The biotech industry also benefited from genetically engineered organelles in that it is possible to pass the foreign DNA to the next generation. These organelles are transferred as matching copies through maternal inheritance. Plants transfer matching copies to all seeds and female organelles to their offspring without changes. Consequently, the transfer of traits that are genetically engineered from one generation to another one is ensured.

Genetic engineering makes it possible to modify animals or plants. Their maturity can occur at a quicker rate. It can also allow maturity to take place outside of the typical and favorable growing conditions.

When organisms are genetically engineered, they can also develop resistance to the usual forms of death. For example, pest resistance can be included in the genetic profile of a plant so that it can mature without needing pesticides. The genetic profile of an animal can also be engineered to reduce its risk of suffering from common health problems that affect the breed or species.

Modifying the organelles of cells also allows scientists to develop specific traits in plants and animals, making them more attractive for consumption or for use. It is possible to modify animals to grow more muscle tissue or produce more milk. Genetic engineering also allows for the creation of new products by combining or adding different profiles together. An example is taking a potato plant and altering its profile so that it can produce more nutrients per kilo calorie.

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