Thursday, December 16, 2010

GM Crops

Should we Grow GM Crops?

  1. What is a GM Crop.

    A GM crop is a genetically modified crop that will either help it grow faster, grow bigger or more lush, or keep “predators” away (predators meaning things that may eat the crop).

    2. List 2 arguments FOR the growing of GM crops

    GM foods will promise many health benefits- Advocates hold that GM foods will leave traditional crops in the dust. They will have longer shelf life. They will be better for us, with some products already in the works benefiting our waistlines (low-calorie sugar beets and oils with lower saturated fat content, for example) and others bearing higher nutritional content (high-fiber corn and high-starch potatoes). And they will be safer to eat.
Advocates maintain that GM technology will help the environment-In the U.S. alone, farmers spray, spread, and otherwise administer more than 970 million tons of insect- and plant-killers every year. These pose threats to the environment. Pesticide residues linger on crops and in soil, find their way into the guts of wildlife that eat contaminated foliage, and leach into groundwater and wash into streams.

3. List 2 arguments AGAINST the growing of GM crops.

GM foods might pose health risks for certain people- Some people, including children, are highly allergic to peanuts and other foods. Some critics of GM foods feel the possibility exists that those genetically modifying food crops may unintentionally introduce a new allergen. Given that genes can be introduced from unrelated species -- for example, a fish gene can be put into a plant -- some critics argue that the possibilities of allergies might be greater than with traditionally bred crops.

Many feel GM crop technology will hurt small farmers- Critics of GM agriculture insist that patenting genetically altered crops, as agribusiness is rushing to do, will make small farmers indentured to big firms. Monsanto, one of the biggest players in the field, is currently suing dozens of North American farmers whom it claims have raised its patented GM crops without paying for the privilege.

*Read some of the reader’s responses.

Engineer a Crop

4. Practice this simulation until you get the largest ears of corn. How many times did it take you?

It took me one try to get the largest ears of corn, but it took for crop seasons to get there.

What’s for Dinner?

*Click on the foods on the table to see what research is being done to bioenginner the foods.

5. List two foods and desribe how they are being modified.

Potatoes- Potatoes engineered to absorb less oil when fried are currently pending approval by food regulatory boards. Bioengineers are also working to generate high-performance cooking oils such as peanut oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil, which may allow for healthier fried foods with fewer saturated fats.

Coffee- Several biotechnology companies are testing coffee plants engineered to produce coffee with altered caffeine content. If these new coffee beans are approved for public consumption, coffee growers could potentially produce decaffeinated coffee beans, avoiding having to decaffeinate coffee beans after the harvest.


*Read the article titled “Are GM Food Sufficiently Regulated in the US?”

Do you think food should be labeled if it has been genetically modified? Why or Why not?

I believe food should be labeled if it has been genetically modified because if you know you are allergic to a certain type of genetically engineered food, whenever you go anywhere to eat or buy food anywhere in the entire world, you will have to be cautious. If foods were labeled it would make it a lot easier to live a normal life.

Finished? Go to and type "genetic engineering" in the search field. Browse some of the sites that pop up.

(Yahooligans is better than yahoo, the sites tend to be picked for education rather than for scientists and universities, you'll find more understandable and interesting sites on yahooligans than you will with Yahoo)

Write down any of the sites you visited below.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DNA Fingerprinting

DNA Fingerprinting


1. DNA is unique for everyone. The only exception is if a person has what?
An Identical Twin

2. What are DNA fingerprints used for?
DNA fingerprints can be used for anything from determining a biological mother or father to identifying the suspect of a crime
Part 1 “It Takes a Lickin”

3. What “crime” was committed?
Someone licked Jimmy Sweet’s holographic NOVA lollipop.

4. What bodily fluid was removed from the “crime scene” to get DNA?

Part 2 “DNA Fingerprinting at the NOVA Lab”

5. What does a restriction enzyme do?
Cuts that long DNA molecules at different locations.

6. What is agarose gel?
A thick, porous, Jello-like substance. It will act like a molecular strainer.
7. What is electrophoresis?
The process of moving molecules with an electric current

8. Smaller fragments of DNA move ____________ than longer strands?
Farther toward the tray’s opposite end

9. Why do you need to place a nylon membrane over the gel?
Because the agarose gel is difficult to work with. The DNA transferred to a nylon membrane.

10. Probes attach themselves to __________
DNA fragments on the nylon membrane.
12. Sketch your DNA fingerprint.

11. Which chemical in your “virtual lab” is radioactive?
The probes.

13. Based on your DNA fingerprint, who licked the lollipop?

Click on the Link “DNA Workshop” (if this link won't load, scroll down to the bottom where it says "try the non-java script version)
Once you’re there, go to the link “DNA Workshop Activity” and practice with DNA replication and protein synthesis.

Browse the DNA Workshop site.

14. What kinds of things could you do at the DNA workshop?
Copy the DNA and make the codons and the proteins from the codons.
Find an Article about DNA
15. Read an article about genetics at this site that you might find interesting, or use the "Search" box in the upper right hand corner to search for DNA fingerprinting.
Title of Article DNA double-strand break signaling and human disorders
Author and Date
Toshiyuki Bohgaki , Miyuki Bohgaki and Razqallah Hakem November 5, 2010
Summarize what the article was about. Write this in a paragraph format.
This article was about how DNA double-strand breaks are the most serious type of DNA damage. This repair from these breaks are vital for organisms such as humans and animals to survive. The repair of DNA breaks are fundamental as demonstrated by the many human syndromes, neurodegenerative diseases, immunodeficiency and cancer. Homologous recombination and non-homologous end-joining pathways are the two major DNA repair pathways that mediate the repair of DNA double-strand breaks.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Identical Twins: Pinpointing environmental impact on the epigenome

1. Often, the physical characteristics of genetically identical twins become increasingly different as they age, even at the molecular level. Explain why this is so. (use the terms "environment" and "epigenome") The environment at birth and until around the time when they begin school is the same. Over time, the epigenome changes from the other twin due to the difference in environment, stress, diet, and many other factors.
2. Name 3-4 environmental factors that influence the epigenome. Diet, stress, physical activity, and environment.
3. What is an imprinted gene? An imprinted gene is when the epigenomic tags from your parents stay on your chromosomes.


1. Discuss factors in your daily life (ie. Diet, exercise, stress etc.) that could be affecting your epigenome. Diet, stress, amount of physical activity, environment, etc.


1. Explain how a high-nurturing mother rat shapes her pup's epigenome, and what that pup's response to stress will be. A high nurturing mother rat shapes her pup's epigenome by stimulating the epigenome. That pup's response to stress will be very calm after stress.
2. In rats, does licking by the mother activate, or deactivate her pup's GR gene? Activates the GR gene.
3. Explain how cortisol and the GR protein work together in the brain to relax a rat pup. You may draw a diagram. Lots of cortisol makes it easier for the rat to calm down from stress. If the pup was nurtured a lot have more GR protein in the hippocampus. Cortisol attaches to the GR protein, creating the easiness of calming down quickly, because stress is "headquartered" in the hippocampus.
4. The rat nurturing example shows us how parental behavior can shape the behavior of their offspring on a biochemical level. Relate this to humans and think about the personal and social implications. Record your thoughts. If your parents abuse you while you are young, you will most likely have a hard time calming down from alarming or stressful situations. On the other hand, if you were brought up by loving, nurturing parents, it will be easier for you to calm down from alarming or stressful situations.

1. Explain how the food we eat affects gene expression. Diets high in these methyl-donating nutrients can rapidly alter gene expression, especially during early development when the epigenome is first being established.
2. Can the diets of parents affect their offspring's epigenome? Yes, if a grandparent or parent went an extended period without proper nutrients, it will effect the offspring or the grandchild. It will either effect them physically, or internally, such as reproductive system issues, mental issues, or any other issues.


1. How does Dietary methyl influence gene expression? More methyl means less rRNA production, which means fewer ribosomes, which means less protein production. Less protein production accounts for weak muscles, bones, and can cause many diseases.
2. Why do Toxins affect gene methylation? Drugs of abuse such as cocaine trigger epigenetic changes in certain brain regions, affecting hundreds of genes at a time. Some of these changes remain long after the drug has been cleared from the system. Research in this area suggests that some of the long-term effects of drug abuse and addiction (including high rates of relapse) may be written in epigenetic code.