What Is Recombinant DNA?

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Recombinant DNA is a DNA strand that was produced by combining two different DNA strands from two species, such as two different plant species combined to create a hybrid vegetable or fruit. Find out what recombinant DNA is with information from a biology teacher in this free video on science.

Part of the Video Series: DNA Structure & Testing
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Video Transcript

If you're a fan of organic food, you may have followed stories in the news over the last several years about the whole notion of whether or not foods should have to be labeled as being genetically modified. Well what does that actually mean? Well it might mean that your tomato actually has a little bit of peanut DNA sliced into it. Well what does that mean? Well what I have behind me is a DNA molecule. DNA is your genetic blueprint. It's what makes you, you. It's inside the cells of all living things and it's how the cell knows to create new cells when it's time for growth or development. Your DNA strand normally is made of just the DNA that would find inside a person if you're a person or just the DNA that you'd find inside a squirrel if you were a squirrel. But scientists have developed something new, a technology that's called the ability to create recombinant DNA. Here's what that means. They take the DNA molecule of let's say a tomato, they might remove part of the DNA strand and they might put in the strand from a peanut. If you remember the movie Jurassic Park and they talk about the fact that these dinosaurs were reproducing when they weren't supposed to be able to reproduce because they were all supposed to be female, well they actually went back to the story and the fact that that blood that they took out of the dragonfly I think that it was, they stuck some frog DNA in there so that they could fill in the holes in the DNA code. Well some frogs have the ability to convert sexes. So that would be an example of this recombinant DNA. You have a little bit of frog stuck in with some dinosaur. Now while that's never been done in real life, recombinant DNA does exist. In fact, recombinant DNA is what makes all of the insulin that diabetics currently use. We stick a human insulin making gene into a bacteria and create little insulin factories. So it sounds pretty complicated, but it really just means that you've got a DNA molecule that's the cross of usually two different species. So I'm Janice Crenetti and this is what is recombinant DNA.


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