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Genetic Engineering Cloning Genetic Engineering is defined as the scientific alteration of the structure of genetic material in a living organism which involves the production and use of recombinant DNA A clone is a group of genetically identical cells For example tumors are clones of cells inside an organism because they consist of many replicas of one mutated cell Another type of clone occurs inside a cell Such a clone is made up of groups of identical structures that contain genetic material such as mitochondria and chloroplasts Some of these structures called plasmids are found in some bacteria and yeasts Techniques of genetic engineering enable scientists to combine an animal or plant gene with a bacterial or yeast plasmid By cloning such a plasmid geneticists can produce many identical copies of the gene The term clone also refers to a group of organisms that are genetically identical Most such clones result from asexual reproduction a process in which a new organism develops from only one parent Except for rare spontaneous mutations asexually reproduced organisms have the same genetic composition as their parent Thus all the offspring of a single parent form a clone Strictly speaking a clone refers to one or more offspring derived from a single ancestor whose genetic composition is identical to that of the ancestor No sex is involved in the production of clones and since sex is the normal means by which new genetic material is introduced during procreation clones have no choice but to have the same genes as their single parent In the same way a clone of cells refers simply to the descendants of a single parental cell Scientists have long been intrigued by the possibility of artificially cloning animals In fact people have known since ancient times that some invertebrates animals without backbones such as earthworms and starfish can be cloned simply by dividing them into two pieces
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