A Biotechnology Glossary
Other definitions are available at these web sites:
Indiana University's Biotech Life Science Dictionary
of Energy's Primer on Molecular Genetics
resistance gene: A gene carried on a plasmid that
resistance to an antibiotic.
(phage): A virus that infects and replicates exclusively
within a bacterium, usually killing it.
a politically fraught period extending from the mid-1970s
to about 1980 when scientists, politicians, and the general
debated the risk of biohazardous organisms arising from recombinant DNA
biotechnology: In the
widest sense, biotechnology is a set of techniques,
some of them ancient (beer- and cheesemaking), using living organisms in
production of goods for human use. In a narrower sense, biotechnology is
use of technologies based on molecular genetics for the production of
pharmaceuticals, vaccines, agricultural products, etc.
chromosome: A threadlike
component of the cell consisting of DNA and protein and
clone: A group of genetically
identical genes, cells, or organisms derived
from a common ancestor.
cloning: A process (such
as recombinant DNA technology) for obtaining a
genetically identical group of genes, cells, or organisms.
In molecular biology, the relationship of the nucleotide
bases on two different strands of DNA or RNA. When the bases are properly
paired (adenine with thymine (DNA) or uracil (RNA), the strands are complementary.
DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid, the
basic hereditary molecule.
E. coli: Escherichia coli,
a type of bacterium commonly used in research
using recombinant DNA technology because it is genetically well characterized.
enzyme: A protein catalyst
that facilitates specific chemical or metabolic
reactions necessary for cell growth and reproduction.
eukaryote: A cell or organism
containing a true nucleus with a well-defined membrane;
a "higher" organism.
gene: A segment of a chromosome
coding for synthesis of a specific protein or regulating
Any one of several techniques for the laboratory
manipulation of genes, such as recombinant DNA or monoclonal
genome: The sum total of an
One of the four chemical units making up DNA and RNA. The
four bases are adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine.
In RNA, uracil substitutes for thymine. The order and complementary
pairing of the bases on the DNA molecule forms the genetic
plasmid: A small circular
form of DNA found in bacteria which carries certain genes,
such as for antibiotic resistance, and which replicates
independently of the host cell.
prokaryote: An organism,
such as a bacterium, virus, or blue-green alga,
whose DNA is not enclosed in a nuclear membrane; a "lower" organism.
Gene or DNA cloning; a form of genetic engineering which
combines DNA from different types of organisms and amplifies
it by cloning.
A bacterial enzyme which degrades DNA by cutting it at
specific nucleotide sequences in the DNA strand; each type
enzyme has a unique cleavage site.
RNA: Ribonucleic acid, the molecule
assisting in translation of the genetic
message of DNA into protein.
biomolecular science, the laboratory transfer of foreign
DNA into a cell in order to induce permanent genetic changes; conversion
of a normal cell to a malignant state.
vector: An agent, often a
virus or plasmid, used to carry foreign DNA into a cell.