Key Difference – Genetic Engineering vs Recombinant DNA Technology
Genetic materials of organisms can be altered using genetic engineering techniques or recombinant DNA technology. Recombinant DNA technology is the process used to create a recombinant DNA molecule which carries the DNA of interest and vector DNA while genetic engineering is a broad term used to describe the processes involved in manipulation of the genetic structure of an organism. This is the key difference between Genetic Engineering and Recombinant DNA technology.
What is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering is a broad term used to refer a set of techniques involved in manipulation of the genetic makeup of an organism. Genetic engineering is done under in vitro conditions (outside a living organism, under a controlled environment).
Genes are encoded for proteins and other protein precursors that are essential for growth and development. When scientists want to study gene arrangement, expression, gene regulation, etc., they introduce that particular gene to a host bacterium which is capable of replicating the inserted gene and making multiple copies of the desired gene using recombinant DNA technology. It involves cutting specific DNA fragments, introducing them into a different organism and expressing them in the transformed organism. Genetic composition of the organism is altered when foreign DNA are introduced. Therefore it is called Genetic engineering (genetic manipulation using advanced techniques). When the genetic makeup of an organism is manipulated, the characteristics of the organism are changed. Characteristics can be enhanced or modified to result in desirable changes of the organisms.
There are several major steps involved in genetic engineering. Those are namely, DNA cleavage and purification, production of recombinant DNA (recombinant vector), transformation of recombinant DNA into a host organism, multiplication of the host (cloning) and screening for transformed cells (correct phenotypes).
Genetic engineering is applicable to a wide range of organisms including plants, animals and microorganisms. As an example, transgenic plants can be produced by introducing useful characteristics such as herbicide resistance, drought tolerance, high nutritional value, fast-growing, insect resistance, submerge tolerance, etc., using plant genetic engineering. The word transgenic refers to genetically modified organisms. Production of transgenic crops with improved characteristics is now feasible due to the genetic engineering. Transgenic animals also can be produced for human pharmaceuticals production as shown in Figure 01.
Genetic engineering has broad applications in Biotechnology, in the areas of medicine, research, agriculture and industry. In medicine, genetic engineering is involving in gene therapy and production of human growth hormones, insulin, different drugs, synthetic vaccines, human albumins, monoclonal antibodies, etc. In agriculture, genetically modified crops such as soybean, corn, cotton and other crops with certain valuable characteristics are made using genetic engineering. In industry, genetic engineering is widely applied to make recombinant microorganisms which are capable of producing economically useful products especially, proteins and enzymes. Environmental pollution control (bioremediation), recovery of metals (biomining), production of synthetic polymers, etc. are also feasible in industries using genetically engineered microorganisms. In research, genetic engineering is used to create animal models of certain human diseases. Genetically modified mice are the most popular animal model used by researchers to study and find therapies for cancers, obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, arthritis, substance abuses, anxiety, ageing, Parkinson disease, etc.
What is Recombinant DNA Technology?
Recombinant DNA technology is the technology involved in preparing a recombinant DNA molecule which bears DNA of two different species (vector and foreign DNA) and cloning. This is accomplished by restriction enzymes and DNA ligase enzyme. Restriction endonucleases are DNA cutting enzymes which help in separation of interested DNA fragments from an organism and opening of vectors, mainly plasmids. DNA ligase is an enzyme which facilitates the joining of separated DNA fragment with opened vector to create a recombinant DNA. Making of a recombinant DNA (a vector consisting of foreign DNA) mainly depends on the vector used. Selected vector should be capable of self-replicating with any DNA segment covalently attached to it, in a suitable host cell. It should also contain suitable cloning sites and selectable markers for screening. In recombinant DNA technology, commonly used vectors are plasmids of bacteria and bacteriophages (viruses infecting bacteria).
Recombinant DNA is produced with the purpose of making new proteins, studying gene structures and functions, manipulating protein properties, harvesting large amounts of proteins, etc. Therefore, synthesised recombinant DNA must be replicated and expressed inside the host. Hence, the recombinant DNA technology includes the whole process which happens in the genetic engineering, starting from the step of isolating the specific DNA to the screening of transformed cells consisting of the introduced feature. Therefore, recombinant DNA technology and genetic engineering can be considered as two interrelated processes with one major objective with similar steps: isolation of interesting DNA insert, selection of a suitable vector, introduction of DNA insert (foreign DNA) into vector to form recombinant DNA molecule, introduction of recombinant DNA molecule into a suitable host and selection of transformed host cells.
What is the difference between Genetic Engineering and Recombinant DNA Technology?
Genetic Engineering vs Recombinant DNA technology
|Genetic engineering is broad term that refers to the process that is used to manipulate the genetic structure of an organism.||Recombinant DNA technology is the technique used to create a recombinant DNA molecule bearing DNA of two different species.|
|Synthesis of Recombinant DNA|
|Recombinant DNA is produced||Recombinant DNA molecule is produced.|
Summary – Genetic Engineering vs Recombinant DNA Technology
Genetic engineering is an area of molecular biology which deals with the manipulation of the genetic material (DNA) of an organism for valuable characteristics. Recombinant DNA technology is the techniques used for making recombinant DNA. During both processes, manipulation of the genetic material of an organism is occurring. Although there is a difference between genetic engineering and recombinant DNA technology, they are interrelated, and genetic engineering would be impossible without the use of recombinant DNA technology.
1. Key, Suzie, Julian K-C Ma, and Pascal MW Drake. “Genetically modified plants and human health.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. The Royal Society of Medicine, 01 June 2008. Web. 21 Feb. 2017
2. “Recombinant DNA.” OMICS International. OMICS Publishing Group, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.