12 Examples of Genetic Engineering in Real Life

Example of Genetic Engineering in Real Life

Genetic engineering is a powerful tool that allows scientists to manipulate the genetic makeup of organisms, including plants, animals, and microorganisms. It involves the intentional modification of an organism’s DNA to introduce new traits or alter existing ones. This field of biotechnology has found numerous applications in various industries, including agriculture, medicine, and environmental conservation.

In this discussion, we will explore an example of genetic engineering in real life. By harnessing the potential of genetic engineering, scientists have been able to make significant advancements in crop improvement, addressing nutritional deficiencies, and producing valuable medical treatments.

1. Genetically Modified Crops

One well-known example is the development of genetically modified crops that are resistant to certain pests or herbicides. Bacillus thuringiensis is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that produces proteins called Bt toxins, which are toxic to certain insects.

To develop genetically modified (GM) crops with built-in insect resistance, scientists isolate the specific genes responsible for producing Bt toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis. These genes are then inserted into the DNA of crop plants, such as corn, through a process known as genetic transformation.

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)

Once the Bt genes are successfully integrated into the plant’s DNA, they enable the crop to produce Bt toxins throughout its tissues. When pests, such as certain types of caterpillars or beetles, feed on these genetically modified crops, they ingest the Bt toxins. The toxins specifically target the digestive system of the pests, causing them to stop feeding, ultimately leading to their death.

The introduction of Bt genes into crops has several advantages. Firstly, it provides an effective and targeted method of pest control. By producing their own insecticides, the genetically modified crops can defend themselves against specific pests without requiring external pesticide applications. This reduces the reliance on chemical pesticides, which can be harmful to the environment, non-target organisms, and human health.

Secondly, the use of Bt crops can lead to higher crop yields and improved crop quality. Insects, such as the European corn borer or the cotton bollworm, can cause substantial damage to crops, leading to yield losses and reduced quality. By incorporating Bt genes into crops, farmers can protect their plants from these pests, leading to healthier and more abundant harvests.

Genetically Modified Crops

Furthermore, the use of Bt crops can contribute to more sustainable agricultural practices. Since the crops themselves produce the insecticide, there is less need for repeated pesticide spraying, which can result in pesticide runoff, soil and water contamination, and harm to beneficial insects and organisms. This reduction in pesticide use can have positive environmental impacts and help promote ecosystem balance.

2. Herbicide-Tolerant Crops

Another example of genetic engineering in agriculture is the development of herbicide-tolerant crops, with Roundup Ready soybeans being a well-known example. These crops have been genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup.

Herbicide-tolerant crops

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide widely used by farmers to control weeds. However, the application of glyphosate to conventional crops can also harm or kill them along with the targeted weeds. To address this issue, scientists have employed genetic engineering techniques to introduce specific genes into crops, providing them with tolerance to glyphosate.

The development of herbicide-tolerant crops has several benefits. Firstly, it provides farmers with an effective tool for weed management. They can apply glyphosate to the entire field, eliminating weeds while leaving the crop unharmed. This simplifies weed control practices, reduces labor costs, and increases overall crop yield.

Secondly, herbicide-tolerant crops can promote more environmentally friendly farming practices. Instead of relying on multiple herbicides or mechanical weed control methods, farmers can use a single herbicide, like glyphosate, in a targeted manner. This reduces the use of other potentially harmful herbicides and the need for frequent soil tillage, which can lead to soil erosion and degradation.

Roundup Ready soybeans

The development of herbicide-tolerant crops, exemplified by Roundup Ready soybeans, demonstrates how genetic engineering can provide farmers with effective weed management solutions, reduce reliance on multiple herbicides, and promote more sustainable agricultural practices.

3. Enhance the Nutritional Value of Crops

genetic engineering has been utilized to enhance the nutritional value of crops, and Golden Rice is a notable example of this application. Golden Rice is a genetically modified variety of rice that has been engineered to produce beta-carotene, a pigment responsible for the golden color of the rice grains. Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, a vital nutrient for human health.

Genetic Engineering enhances nutritional value of crops

Vitamin A deficiency is a significant public health concern, particularly in regions where rice is a staple food and access to diverse nutrient sources is limited. Insufficient intake of vitamin A can lead to various health problems, including impaired vision, weakened immune function, and an increased risk of infectious diseases.

To address this issue, scientists introduced two genes into the DNA of rice plants: a gene from the daffodil plant responsible for producing an enzyme involved in beta-carotene synthesis, and a gene from a bacterium that enables the efficient expression of the first gene in the rice grains.

Golden rice Technology

As a result of this genetic modification, the rice grains of Golden Rice accumulate beta-carotene, which is then converted into vitamin A by the human body upon consumption. This provides a potential source of dietary vitamin A in regions where rice is a dietary staple and can help combat vitamin A deficiency and associated health problems.

4. Medicine

Genetic engineering has made significant contributions to the field of medicine, and the production of recombinant insulin serves as a prime example of its application. Recombinant insulin is a vital treatment for individuals with diabetes, a metabolic disorder characterized by inadequate insulin production or impaired insulin function.

Production of insulin with genetic engineering

Traditionally, insulin for medical use was obtained from the pancreas of animals, such as pigs or cows. However, this method had limitations in terms of supply, purity, and the potential for immune reactions in patients. Genetic engineering revolutionized insulin production by enabling the synthesis of human insulin using recombinant DNA technology.

Scientists turned to bacteria or yeast cells as the host organisms to produce recombinant insulin. These microorganisms offer advantages such as rapid growth, scalability, and ease of manipulation. The process begins by isolating the gene responsible for insulin production from human DNA. This gene encodes the insulin precursor, which consists of two peptide chains (A and B) connected by a peptide called C-peptide. The gene is then inserted into the DNA of bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, or yeast cells, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Production of insulin with recombinant DNA

The genetically modified bacteria or yeast cells are then cultured under controlled laboratory conditions. As they multiply, they also produce insulin precursor molecules based on the inserted human insulin gene. These precursor molecules undergo subsequent enzymatic processing within the cells, resulting in the production of mature human insulin.

The production of recombinant insulin through genetic engineering has significantly improved the accessibility, safety, and availability of insulin for individuals with diabetes. It has helped ensure a stable and consistent supply of human insulin, reducing the reliance on animal-derived insulin and mitigating concerns about supply limitations and allergic reactions.

Moreover, genetic engineering has facilitated the development of insulin analogs, which are modified forms of insulin designed to have specific pharmacokinetic properties. These analogs offer improved insulin therapy options, allowing for better control of blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes.

5. Production of Enzymes

Enzymes are protein molecules that act as catalysts in various biological processes. They play a crucial role in numerous industries, including food and beverage, textile, detergent, paper, and biofuel production. Traditionally, enzymes were obtained from natural sources such as plants, animals, or microorganisms. However, this approach often had limitations in terms of availability, yield, and cost.

Genetic engineering has revolutionized the production of enzymes by enabling the mass production of specific enzymes with desirable properties. Genetic engineering offers several advantages in enzyme production like increased yield, improved properties, cost-effectiveness, and customization according to specialized industrial processes.

Production of enzymes with genetic engineering

Genetic engineering has made the production of enzymes more efficient, sustainable, and economically viable. This has led to advancements in various industries, including the production of food and beverages, textile processing, pulp, and paper manufacturing, and the development of eco-friendly detergents and biofuels.

6. Pharmaceutical Production

Genetic engineering has revolutionized pharmaceutical production, providing a powerful tool for the development and production of high-quality pharmaceuticals. By utilizing genetic engineering techniques, scientists can modify the genes of host organisms to produce desired proteins, antibodies, and therapeutic molecules. This has transformed the pharmaceutical industry, enabling the production of large quantities of pharmaceuticals in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

Genetic engineering allows for the customization of pharmaceutical products to enhance their efficacy, reduce side effects, and improve the targeting of specific cells or tissues. By modifying genes, scientists can produce human-compatible proteins, ensuring compatibility and minimizing immune reactions when administered to patients.

The ability to produce pharmaceuticals in large quantities through genetic engineering ensures a stable and reliable supply, particularly for drugs used in the treatment of widespread diseases. It has also paved the way for the development of targeted therapies, personalized medicine, and improved treatments for various diseases and conditions.

Genetic Engineering and pharmaceutical production

The use of genetically modified organisms in pharmaceutical production has led to cost savings and increased accessibility to medications. These advancements have transformed healthcare by providing more effective and safer therapeutic interventions, offering hope for improved patient outcomes and quality of life.

7. Disease-Resistant Crops

Genetic engineering has played a crucial role in the development of disease-resistant crops, offering an effective and sustainable approach to combatting devastating diseases and pests. One illustrative example is the development of genetically modified (GM) papaya varieties that are resistant to the Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV).

Genetically modified papaya varieties

The PRSV is a destructive virus that can cause severe damage to papaya crops, leading to substantial yield losses and economic hardships for farmers. Traditional breeding methods for developing disease-resistant papaya varieties were challenging due to the complex nature of the virus and limited genetic diversity in papaya populations.

Genetic engineering provided a solution by allowing the introduction of genes into papaya plants that confer resistance to the virus. In the case of PRSV-resistant papaya, a small portion of the virus’s genetic material, known as the coat protein gene, was inserted into the papaya plants’ DNA using genetic transformation techniques.

The development and cultivation of PRSV-resistant papaya varieties have brought significant benefits to farmers and the papaya industry. These genetically modified varieties have shown remarkable success in controlling the spread of PRSV, leading to increased yields, improved fruit quality, and enhanced marketability.

Genetic engineering and disease resistant crops

The adoption of PRSV-resistant papaya has been particularly successful in regions such as Hawaii, where the virus had caused significant damage. The introduction of genetically engineered papaya has not only revitalized the industry but has also provided a sustainable solution to combat PRSV and ensure the availability of a popular tropical fruit.

8. Genetic Testing and Diagnostics

Genetic engineering has had a significant impact on genetic testing and diagnostics, revolutionizing the field of medical genetics and personalized medicine. Here’s how genetic engineering plays a crucial role in this context:

  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR): PCR is a widely used technique in genetic testing and diagnostics that allows for the amplification of specific DNA sequences. Genetic engineering plays a fundamental role in PCR by providing the necessary enzymes, such as Taq polymerase, which is derived from thermophilic bacteria and can withstand the high temperatures required for DNA amplification. Taq polymerase is produced using genetic engineering techniques, enabling the efficient and reliable amplification of DNA for various diagnostic purposes.

Genetic testing and diagnostics

  • DNA sequencing: DNA sequencing techniques have revolutionized genetic testing and diagnostics, enabling the identification and analysis of genetic variations and mutations. Genetic engineering plays a crucial role in DNA sequencing by providing the tools and technologies for high-throughput sequencing methods, such as next-generation sequencing (NGS). NGS platforms rely on genetically engineered enzymes, sequencing reagents, and bioinformatics tools to accurately sequence and analyze DNA samples, facilitating the identification of genetic variants associated with diseases or conditions.
  • Genetic diagnostic tests: Genetic engineering has facilitated the development of diagnostic tests for various genetic disorders and diseases. These tests often involve the identification and analysis of specific genes or genetic variations associated with particular conditions. By utilizing genetic engineering principles, scientists can design and produce specific probes, primers, and reagents that target and detect the genetic markers or mutations of interest. These diagnostic tests allow for early detection, risk assessment, and personalized treatment approaches for individuals with genetic disorders.
  • Personalized medicine: Genetic engineering plays a vital role in the field of personalized medicine, which involves tailoring medical treatments and interventions based on an individual’s genetic profile. Through genetic testing and analysis, physicians can identify specific genetic variations or mutations that may influence an individual’s response to certain medications or their predisposition to certain diseases. This information helps guide treatment decisions, enabling personalized and targeted therapies that are more effective and have fewer side effects.

Genetic diagnosis

Genetic engineering has significantly advanced genetic testing and diagnostics, enabling accurate and efficient analysis of genetic information. It has opened new possibilities for early detection, risk assessment, and personalized treatment strategies in various medical fields, including oncology, pharmacogenomics, and rare genetic disorders.

9. Bioremediation

Bioremediation, the use of living organisms to remove or neutralize pollutants in the environment, has gained significant attention as an eco-friendly and sustainable approach to environmental cleanup. Genetic engineering has emerged as a powerful tool in bioremediation, allowing scientists to enhance the capabilities of microorganisms for more effective and efficient pollutant degradation or detoxification.

Genetic engineering and bioremediation

By employing genetic engineering techniques, scientists can modify the genetic makeup of microorganisms to optimize their abilities to target and break down specific pollutants. This process involves the identification and isolation of naturally occurring microorganisms that possess the desired traits for pollutant degradation. Genes encoding enzymes or metabolic pathways responsible for pollutant degradation are then inserted into the microorganisms’ DNA through genetic modification.

The introduction of these specific genes enables genetically modified microorganisms to produce enzymes or metabolic products that facilitate the degradation or detoxification of target pollutants. This can involve the breakdown of complex organic pollutants into simpler, less harmful compounds, or the transformation of toxic substances into less toxic forms.

The advantages of genetic engineering in bioremediation are manifold. Firstly, the targeted modification of microorganisms allows for the efficient degradation of specific pollutants, enhancing the overall remediation process. Secondly, genetic engineering expands the range of pollutants that can be targeted, including those that are recalcitrant or difficult to degrade naturally. Thirdly, the modification of microorganisms can lead to increased degradation efficiency, as the genetically engineered enzymes may exhibit enhanced activity or stability.

Genetic engineering and enhanced bioremediation

Furthermore, genetic engineering enables the adaptability of microorganisms to different environmental conditions and varying pollutant concentrations, making them more viable and effective in diverse contaminated sites. This adaptability can enhance the performance and longevity of bioremediation processes.

The applications of genetic engineering in bioremediation are wide-ranging. Genetically modified microorganisms have been used to remediate oil spills, degrade harmful organic compounds in soil and water, and remove heavy metals from contaminated sites. The potential for using genetically engineered microorganisms in wastewater treatment is also being explored.

10. Animal Biotechnology

Animal biotechnology harnesses the power of genetic engineering to achieve specific objectives in animal breeding and production. One of the key applications is the development of animals with desirable traits through genetic modification. By manipulating the genetic makeup of animals, scientists can enhance traits such as disease resistance, increased meat quality, or improved productivity.

Genetic engineering allows for the precise insertion, deletion, or modification of specific genes in animals. For example, genes associated with disease resistance can be introduced into livestock to make them less susceptible to certain infections or diseases. This approach reduces the need for antibiotics and promotes healthier animals.

Genetic engineering in animal biotechnology

In addition to trait enhancement, genetic engineering enables the production of valuable proteins using genetically modified animals as bioreactors. Animals can be engineered to produce human antibodies or other therapeutic proteins in their milk, blood, or other body fluids. These proteins can then be harvested and used in various medical applications, including the treatment of diseases.

The production of valuable proteins through genetically modified animals offers several advantages. It provides a cost-effective and scalable method for large-scale production of complex proteins that may be challenging to produce through traditional methods. Genetically modified animals can serve as living factories, continuously producing high-quality proteins in a sustainable and controlled manner.

animal biotechnology and genetic engineering

Furthermore, animal biotechnology contributes to advancements in sustainable agriculture by reducing environmental impact and improving animal welfare. By developing animals with enhanced traits, such as improved feed conversion efficiency or reduced methane emissions, genetic engineering can help create more efficient and environmentally friendly livestock production systems.

11. Production of Biofuels

The production of biofuels using genetic engineering is a significant advancement in the quest for sustainable energy sources. Genetic engineering is employed to develop microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, with improved capabilities to efficiently convert plant biomass into biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel.

Genetic engineering plays a crucial role in optimizing the metabolic pathways of these microorganisms. By introducing or modifying specific genes, scientists enhance the microorganisms’ ability to break down complex plant biomass into simple sugars. This involves the introduction of genes encoding enzymes that efficiently degrade components like cellulose and hemicellulose found in biomass.

Genetic engineering and production of biofuels

Furthermore, genetic engineering enables the modification of genes involved in sugar metabolism and fermentation pathways. This enhances the microorganisms’ capacity to utilize the sugars produced from biomass degradation. Through genetic engineering, the metabolic pathways can be redirected to produce biofuels such as ethanol or biodiesel.

Genetic engineering for Enhanced Biofuel Production

The advantages of genetic engineering in biofuel production are significant. Firstly, it improves the efficiency of biofuel production by maximizing the conversion of plant biomass into biofuels. This contributes to a more sustainable and economically viable biofuel industry.

Secondly, the use of genetically modified microorganisms enables the utilization of a wide range of feedstocks. These microorganisms can be engineered to efficiently process diverse biomass sources, including agricultural residues, dedicated energy crops, and even waste materials.

Lastly, biofuels produced through genetic engineering offer an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels. They contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on non-renewable resources, helping to mitigate the impact of climate change.

12. Bioluminescent Organisms

Bioluminescence, the natural phenomenon of organisms emitting light, has fascinated scientists for centuries. Genetic engineering has provided a means to harness and manipulate bioluminescence, resulting in the creation of bioluminescent organisms like glow-in-the-dark plants or animals.

Genetic engineering techniques involve introducing genes responsible for bioluminescence into the DNA of target organisms. For example, the gene encoding the green fluorescent protein (GFP) from a jellyfish can be inserted into the genome of plants or animals, allowing them to produce the glowing protein.

Genetic engineering and bioluminescence

Bioluminescent organisms have diverse applications in scientific research. They serve as valuable tools for visualizing and tracking biological processes. Scientists can study gene expression, protein localization, and cellular activities by introducing bioluminescent markers into living organisms. This aids in understanding fundamental biological mechanisms and advancing fields like developmental biology, genetics, and neuroscience.

Bioluminescent organisms

Furthermore, bioluminescent organisms have environmental monitoring applications. They can be engineered to act as biosensors, emitting light in the presence of specific pollutants or toxins. This enables real-time monitoring of environmental quality and the detection of potential hazards. Beyond scientific applications, bioluminescent organisms have captivated artists and designers. They inspire creativity and offer unique opportunities for aesthetic displays, creating mesmerizing light shows and interactive installations.


In conclusion, genetic engineering has made a profound impact on various aspects of daily life. The examples discussed highlight the versatility and wide-ranging applications of genetic engineering in agriculture, medicine, industry, and environmental sustainability. Overall, genetic engineering continues to shape our daily lives by driving innovation, improving agricultural practices, advancing medical treatments, enhancing industrial processes, and promoting environmental sustainability. Its potential to address societal challenges and improve quality of life makes it a powerful tool in shaping the future.

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