Biotechnology and Nutrient Composition Glossary

agrobacterium

A soil bacteria that can be a plant pathogen. It works as a natural genetic engineer by invading a plant through wounds and inserting a piece of DNA into the plant's chromosomes. The plant will then begin producing the protein encoded by the inserted gene.

allergen

A biological or chemical substance that elicits a reaction involving the body's immune system.

amino acid

The basic building blocks of proteins. The sequence of amino acids in a protein and protein function are determined by the genetic code.

amino acids

The basic building blocks of proteins. The sequence of amino acids in a protein and protein function are determined by the genetic code.

carotenoids

Type of phytonutrient with antioxidant properties; found in plant foods.

chromosome

A genetic structure in a cell composed of condensed DNA, which contains the genetic code for an organism.

coding region

Region of the DNA sequence between the promoter and the termination sequence. It contains the instructions about how to make a specific protein.

cross breeding

Breeding from a male and female of different lineage

cysteine

Nonessential amino acid (essential in infants and those with chronic diseases).

DNA

(deoxyribonucleic acid) The molecule that encodes genetic information. DNA is a double-stranded molecule held together by weak bonds between base pairs of nucleotides. It is the fundamental substance of which genes are composed.

electroporation

A method of cell transformation using a pulse of electricity to open small temporary holes in the plant or bacteria cells. The foreign DNA mixed with these cells is able to pass into the cell through these holes.

enzyme

A protein that catalyzes, or speeds up, a specific biochemical reaction without changing the nature of the reaction.

events

The term used to differentiate different transgenic crops. Each event is the insertion of a particular transgene into a specific location on a chromosome. Events are differentiated by two factors: 1) what transgene was inserted, and 2) where on the chromosome it inserted and how many gene copies inserted at that locus.

fatty acids

A class of compounds containing a long hydrocarbon chain and a terminal carboxyl group. Fatty acids can be saturated (containing no carbon-carbon double bond), monounsaturated (containing one carbon-carbon double bond), or polyunsaturated (containing multiple carbon-carbon double bonds).

ferritin

Storage form of iron in the liver and other tissues.

gene

The fundamental unit of heredity that carries genetic information from one generation to the next. A gene is an ordered sequence of nucleotides located on a particular position on a particular chromosome that encodes a specific functional protein.

gene expression

The production of a protein encoded by a gene. Gene expression is controlled by the promoter region of the gene.

genes

The fundamental unit of heredity that carries genetic information from one generation to the next. A gene is an ordered sequence of nucleotides located on a particular position on a particular chromosome that encodes a specific functional protein.

genetic engineering

The process of adding foreign DNA to the genome of an organism.

genome

All the genetic material in the haploid set of chromosomes for a particular organism.

line

Plants within a species that have the same genetic composition and are genetically pure, (i.e., inbred line). Lines are typically not agronomically competitive and are used only in plant breeding.

lines

Plants within a species that have the same genetic composition and are genetically pure, (i.e., inbred line). Lines are typically not agronomically competitive and are used only in plant breeding.

lysine

Nonessential amino acid found in cheese, eggs, milk, meat, legumes, whole grains, and nuts.

methionine

An essential amino acid found in cereal, whole grains, sesame and sunflower seeds, and yeast.

mRNA

(messenger ribonucleic acid) The message made during transcription by reading the DNA sequence to build a particular protein. A single-stranded nucleic acid similar to DNA but having a ribose sugar rather than deoxyribose sugar and a uracil rather than thymine as one of the bases.

nucleus

The part of the plant or animal cell that contains the chromosomes.

phenotype

The observable physical characteristics of an organism that are determined by a combination of the genetic composition (genotype) and the environment of the individual.

plasmid

A small circular piece of DNA from bacteria that often contains antibiotic resistance genes. Some types have the capability to be replicated in the bacteria and integrate itself into the genome of a plant.

protein

A large molecule composed of one or more chains of amino acids in a specific order. Proteins are necessary for the structure, function, and regulation of an organism's cells, tissues, and organs. Each protein has a unique function determined by its shape.

RNA

Ribonucleic Acid.  A single-stranded nucleic acid similar to DNA but having a uracil rather than thymine as one of the nucleotides. The RNA strand carries the coded information from the nucleus to the cytoplasm where protein production occurs.

selection media

Agarose media containing the substance for which the selectable marker gene encodes resistance. When tissue culture cells are place on this media, cells that have not been transformed and do not contain the gene conferring resistance to the substance will die leaving only those cells that are transgenic.

starch

Plant storage form of carbohydrate.

threonine

Nonessential amino acid found in cheese, eggs, milk, meat, legumes, nuts and seeds.

tissue culture

Plant cells are grown in culture which allows them to be manipulated and then induced to develop into whole plants.

trait

The characteristic that results from an expressing gene(s). Ex. Upright leaves, drought tolerance, Bt resistance. A trait can be influenced by the environment.

transcription

The process by which the nucleotide sequence of DNA is copied into a single-stranded molecule of RNA. The nucleotide sequence of the RNA created is complementary to the DNA sequence except all thymine molecules are replaced with uracil molecules.

transformation

A process by which extra genetic material is inserted into the cells of an individual.

transgene

A gene that has been genetically altered. They are usually used to transform organisms.

transgenic

An organism that has a new genetically engineered DNA sequence found in every one of its cells. Genetically engineered organisms are transgenic. These two terms are used interchangeably.

translation

The process following transcription during which the nucleotide sequence of mRNA is read and 'translated' into a chain of amino acids (protein). The mRNA sequence is read three nucleotides (codon) at a time, and each codon codes for a specific amino acid.

translation

The process following transcription during which the nucleotide sequence of mRNA is read and 'translated' into a chain of amino acids (protein). The mRNA sequence is read three nucleotides (codon) at a time, and each codon codes for a specific amino acid.

tyrosine

nonessential amino acid