Molecular Genetic Techniques



Advances in DNA technology have rapidly emerged since the double-helix structure of DNA was discovered in 1953. DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, is the organic molecule containing coded genetic instruction for an organism. Recombinant DNA technology has made it possible to insert genes from one organism into another organism, producing traits that would be impossible to develop using traditional breeding techniques. This is feasible because of the universality of the genetic code and the development of techniques that allow rapid copying of any piece of DNA and cutting at specific sites on DNA strands. Other advances have allowed for entire genomes to be sequenced, including the human genome. As more information is collected about how each gene functions, personal genome sequencing may offer predictions about an individual's likelihood of developing genetically linked illnesses. Most recently, a technique called CRISPR, actually known as gene editing, has been developed to target specific segments of DNA code to permanently modify genes in living cells.

At A Glance

  • Recombinant DNA technology inserts modified DNA molecules from one organism into the genome of another organism.
  • Gel electrophoresis can be used to separate DNA fragments of different sizes.
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has many uses in medicine and forensic investigations.
  • DNA sequencing techniques can reveal nucleotide sequences of an organism's genome.
  • Molecular genetic technology can determine the activity of a particular gene, thus enabling researchers to discern the gene's function.
  • Scientists use CRISPR gene-editing technology to enable specific genes to be modified, removed, or added.