The key difference between artificial selection and genetic engineering is that artificial selection selects already existing traits by breeding individuals that have desirable traits while genetic engineering modifies the genetic composition of plants or animals by introducing genes of new traits or silencing genes.
Genetic engineering is a novel field in Biotechnology. It allows the changing of the genetic makeup of an organism. Valuable traits can be introduced into an organism via recombinant DNA technology. Artificial selection is a traditional form of genetic engineering. In artificial selection, breeders select individuals who have desirable traits in order to breed, and certain selected traits are maintained over repeated generations. However, it is a slow and difficult process compared to genetic engineering.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Artificial Selection
3. What is Genetic Engineering
4. Similarities Between Artificial Selection and Genetic Engineering
5. Side by Side Comparison – Artificial Selection vs Genetic Engineering in Tabular Form
What is Artificial Selection?
Artificial selection, also called selective breeding, is a technique in which individuals with desirable traits are selected for breeding. By artificial selection, breeders regulate which of their animals or plants can breed. As a result, certain traits come out over repeated generations. Those traits show higher expression rates within a population. Artificial selection is a traditional form of genetic engineering. When compared to genetic engineering, artificial selection is a slow and difficult process. Moreover, some traits are impossible to select by artificial selection. It can also cause side effects such as the amplification of deleterious recessive genes. In addition, artificial selection does not allow introducing entirely new traits to organisms.
Artificial selection is similar to natural selection. But the artificial selection is made by humans while natural selection is a natural process. Artificial selection is practised frequently in agriculture in order to produce animals and crops with desirable traits. For example, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage were all derived from the wild mustard plant through selective breeding.
What is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering is a completely artificial process in which the genetic composition of an organism is modified through recombinant DNA technology. During the genetic engineering process, a known gene is introduced to alter the natural genetic composition, using a vector system. The gene of interest is cloned on to a compatible vector. Vectors can be plasmids such as pBR322, Ti plasmid of Agrobacterium tumerfaciens or viruses such as Tobacco Mosaic Virus and Cauliflower Mosaic virus, etc. Gene transformation methods such as electroporation, biolistic gene gun method, and PEG mediated gene transfer are also used to introduce the foreign DNA to the respective host organisms. Upon completion of the transformation process, the transformed and the non – transformed cells or plants are selected using special reporter systems such as the GUS assay.
Genetically engineered organisms and plants are mainly important for commercial purposes. Organisms or plants capable of producing different beneficial products such as amino acids, proteins, vitamins and antibiotics are produced through genetic engineering. Furthermore, genetically engineered crops such as herbicide-tolerant tomatoes and BT Maize, etc. are also developed as food sources. Although genetically engineered food products will be a positive approach for the increasing global food demand and the population rise, genetic engineering of crops or animals involves a lot of social and ethical concerns, which are debated across the scientific community in the world.
What are the Similarities Between Artificial Selection and Genetic Engineering?
- Artificial selection is the most traditional type of genetic engineering.
- Both allow changing a species in a particular way.
- These methods are used in agriculture and domestication of animals.
- Farmers use both methods to grow crops.
- Both techniques contribute to evolution.
What is the Difference Between Artificial Selection and Genetic Engineering?
Artificial selection is the process which selects individuals with desirable traits to breed while genetic engineering is the process of artificially changing the genetic composition of organisms through recombinant engineering technology. So, this is the key difference between artificial selection and genetic engineering. Moreover, manipulation of genes is indirectly done in artificial selection, while genes are directly manipulated in genetic engineering.
Below infographic shows more differences between artificial selection and genetic engineering in tabular form.
Summary – Artificial Selection vs Genetic Engineering
Artificial selection and genetic engineering are two methods that allow changing a species in a particular way. Artificial selection selects desirable traits by breeding individual having desirable traits. Therefore, it is a traditional method in which genes are manipulated indirectly by selecting offspring with desired traits. In contrast, genetic engineering changes the genetic composition of organisms by adding or silencing genes through recombinant DNA technology. In genetic engineering, genes are directly manipulated. Both processes are evolutionary important. Moreover, both processes are used in agriculture and the domestication of animals. Thus, this summarizes the difference between artificial selection and genetic engineering.
1. “Carrots of many colors” By Stephen Ausmus – This image was released by the Agricultural Research Service, the research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, with the ID K11611-1 (next). (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Genetic engineering logo” By Ciencias EspañolasKoS – (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia