Glossary of biotechnology terms meaning and definition



Glossary of biotechnology terms meaning and definition


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Glossary of biotechnology terms meaning and definition



A terms

ACC Synthase
- aminocyclopropane-2-carboxylate synthase, an enzyme involved in the production of ethylene in plants, and one of the targets of delayed fruit ripening technology.

Acrocentric chromosome
- A chromosome whose centromere is located near one end

- A functional or structural characteristic of an organism that allows it to cope better with its environment

- A synthetic single-stranded non self-complementary oligonucleotide used in conjunction with alinker to add cohesive ends to DNA molecules

Additive genes
- Genes that interact but do not show dominance. They do not have individually recognizable phenotypic effects; rather, these genes have cumulative or additive effects.

Additive variance
- The fraction of the genetic variance that is due to additive genes

Adenine (A)
- Nitrogenous base found in DNA and RNA

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)
- The energy molecule of cells, synthesized mainly in mitochondria and chloroplasts. Energy from its breakdown drives many important cellular reactions.

Adventitious Presence of Genetically Modified (GM) Material in Non-GM Products
The adventitious presence of GM material is the unintended occurrence of plant material from crops improved through modern biotechnology in other seed, food and feed. It occurs through natural pollen flow or from co-mingling of grain that occurs in the production/distribution system. It is the logical and unavoidable consequence of the development of GM crops in many parts of the world. In contrast to off-types mentioned in the previous section, which are checked on phenotypic characteristics, adventitious presence of GM material are in general checked based on DNA characteristics.
For more on this topic, go to:

- Jelly-like matrix, extracted from seaweed, used as support in the separation of nucleic acid by gel electrophoresis

Agrobacterium tumefaciens
- A common soil bacterium that causes crown gall disease by transferring some of its DNA to the plant host. Scientists alter Agrobacterium so that it no longer causes the disease but is still able to transfer DNA. They then use this altered Agrobacterium to ferry desirable genes into plants.

Alkaline phosphatase
- An enzyme that removes 5'-phosphate groups from the ends of DNA molecules, leaving 5'-hydoxyl groups

- One of two or more alternative forms of a gene which are usually recognizable by phenotypes

Alzheimer's disease (AD)
- Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia (a brain disorder that seriously affects a person's ability to carry out daily activities) among older people. It involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. Every day scientists learn more, but right now the causes of AD are still unknown, and there is no cure.
Source: Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center

Amino acid
- The fundamental building blocks of a protein molecule. A protein is composed of a chain of hundreds or thousands of amino acids. Our bodies can synthesize most of the amino acids. However, eight amino acids (called "essential amino acids") must be obtained from food.

Ampicilin (Ap)
- A semisynthetic ß-lactam antibiotic

- Angiosperms are flowering plants that produce seeds enclosed in fruit. They are the dominant type of plant today; there are over 250,000 species. Their flowers are used in reproduction. Angiosperms evolved 125 million years ago and became the dominant plants about 100 million years ago. Angiosperms are divided into the monocots (like corn) and dicots (like beans).

- A protein produced in response to the presence of a specific antigen.

- The three adjacent nucleotides in a tRNA molecule that are complementary to and that pairs with the three nucleotides of a codon in the mRNA during the protein synthesis

- A foreign substance that elicits the production of antibodies.

- Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radical damage may lead to cancer. Antioxidants interact with and stabilize free radicals and may prevent some of the damage free radicals otherwise might cause. Examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins C, E, and A, and other substances.
Source: National Cancer Institute

- The arrangement of complementary DNA strands, which run in different directions with respect to their 5' 3' polarity

Anti-sense technology
- The use of an RNA molecule to block gene expression by interfering with protein production. This technique is used commercially in tomatoes to slow ripening for better shipping and longer shelf life.

- Anthocyanins are naturally occurring compounds that impart color to fruit, vegetables, and plants. Derived from two Greek words meaning plant and blue, anthocyanins are the pigments that make blueberries blue, raspberries red, and are thought to play a major role in the high antioxidant activity levels observed in red and blue fruits and vegetables. Anthocyanins are also largely responsible for the red coloring of buds and young shoots and the purple and purple-red colors of autumn leaves. More than 200 anthocyanins have been discovered.

- Mode of asexual production in which there is no fusion of gametes but the structure involved are commonly concerned in sexual reproduction.

- The first flowering plant to have its entire genome sequenced. Commonly known as thale cress, a relative of the mustard plant, it has become a model organism in plant biology research because Arabidopsis has almost all of the same genes as other flowering plants and has relatively little "non-coding" DNA.

- A large group of invertebrate animals with jointed legs, including the insects, scorpions, crustaceans and spiders.

- A method for determining the presence or quantity of a component.

- Image produced on X-ray film in response to the emmission of radioactive particles

- A body chromosome or a chromosome other than the sex xhromosome


B terms

B carotene
- a part of the chemical family called carotenoids. It is a precursor for Vitamin A and has anti-oxidant properties

B lymphocytes (B cells)
- A type of cell that produces antibodies.

Bacillus thuringiensis
- A naturally occurring bacterium with pesticidal properties. Bacillus thuringiensis produces a protein (Bt toxin) that is toxic only to certain insect larvae that consume it.

- The cross of a heterozygote with one of its parents

Back mutation
- A mutation that reverts the mutual gene to the wild type form; also called reverse mutation.

- A virus that infects bacteria. Also called a phage.

- A particular type of virus that infects insect cells, producing large inclusions in the infected cells

Bacterial alkaline phosphatase (BAP)
- See alkaline phosphatase

Bal 31 nuclease
- An exonuclease that degrades both strands of a DNA molecule at the same time

- A major food and animal feed crop, member of the grass family Poaceae. Barley is the fifth largest cultivated cereal crop in the world.

Base pair
- Two nitrogen bases that pair by hydrogen bonding in the double stranded DNA. The pairing is always a purine with a pyrimidine

Betaine Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (BADH)
- an enzyme involved in betaine biosynthesis from choline in plants, upstream of a pathway leading to glycinebetaine, synthesized in response to extreme environmental conditions.

- A method of determining the effect of a compound by quantifying its effect on living organisms or their component parts.

- An enzyme that activates or speeds up a chemical reaction.

- Refers to a method of introducing DNA into cells by bombarding them with microprojectiles, while carrying the DNA

Biological control
- The use of one organism to control the population size of another organism.

Biological molecules
- Large, complex molecules, such as proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates, that are produced only by living organisms. Biological molecules are often referred to as macromolecules or biopolymers.

- A technique in which microorganisms, living cells, or their components are used to produce a desired end product.

- A container used for bioprocessing.

- The use of organisms, usually microorganisms, to break down pollutants in soil, air or groundwater.

Biosensor technology
- The use of cells or biological molecules in an electronic system to detect specific substances. Consists of a biological sensing agent coupled with a microelectronic circuit.

- Production of a chemical by a living organism.

- (Ancient definition:) The use of living organisms to solve problems and make useful products. (Modern definition:) A collection of technologies that use living cells and/or biological molecules to solve problems and make useful products.

Blunt ends
- DNA termini without overhanging 3' or 5' ends. Also knows as flush ends


C terms

C terminus
- Carboxyl terminus, defined by the -COOH group of an amino acid or protein

CAAT box
- A sequence located approximately 75 base-pairs upstream from eukaryotic transcription start sites. This sequence is one of those that enhance binding of RNA polymerase

- A tropical evergreen tree. May refer to its dried and partially fermented beans that are processed to make chocolate, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter.

- A cluster of undifferentiated plant cells that have the capacity to regenerate a whole plant in some species.

- Cultivar of the rapeseed plant from which rapeseed oil is obtained

- Carotenoids represent one of the most widespread groups of naturally occurring pigments. These compounds are largely responsible for the red, yellow, and orange color of fruits and vegetables, and are also found in many dark green vegetables. The most abundant carotenoids in the North American diet are beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, lycopene, lutein, beta-crpytoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin.
Source: “The World’s Healthiest Foods”

- A chemical modification that is added to the 5' end of a eukaryotic mRNA molecule during post-transcriptional processing of the primary transcript

- The protein coat of a virus

- An edible tuber, also known as manioc or yucca, with tough brown skin and firm white flesh. Sweet cassava can be eaten as a starch vegetable. Its bitter variety contains a deadly acid, for which the rootcrop must be processed before it can be eaten. Cassava is a major staple of most African countries.

- A substance that speeds up a chemical reaction, but is not itself changed during the reaction.

- DNA that is made by copying mRNA using the enzyme reverse transcriptase

cDNA library
- A collection of clones prepared from the mRNA of a given cell or tissue type, representing the genetic information expressed by such cells

- The smallest structural unit of living organisms that is able to grow and reproduce independently.

Cell culture
- A technique for growing cells under laboratory conditions.

Cell fusion
- The formation of a hybrid cell produced by fusing two different cells.

Central dogma
- Statement regarding the unidirectional transfer of information from DNA to RNA to protein

- A single differentiated region of the chromosome which acts as the point of association between the chromosome and the spindle; also called kinetochore or primary constriction

- Insects found in a range of habitats, most common in grassy places such as meadows, where the larvae of many species feed on grass stems. Some species are major pests of cereals.

- a molecule that absorbs sunlight and uses its energy to synthesize carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water, driving photosynthesis in plants.

- The longitudinal subunit of a chromosome

- Materials found in the nucleus of a cell, composed of DNA, histone, non-histone proteins and some RNA

- Components in a cell that contain genetic information. Each chromosome contains numerous genes. Chromosomes occur in pairs: one obtained from the mother; the other from the father. Chromosomes of different pairs are often visibly different from each other (see also DNA).

- A sequence of bases in DNA that specifies one polypeptide

- A cell or collection of cells containing identical genetic material. Clones are produced from a single parent cell.

- A group of three adjacent nucleotides in an mRNA molecule that codes for a specific amino acid or for the termination of translation

- Refers to a state where different primary production systems, including non-GM systems such as organic production, conventional agriculture can each working smoothly alongside one another

Cohesive ends
- Those ends (termini) of DNA molecules that have short somplementary sequences that can stick together to join two DNA molecules. Often generated by restriction enzymes.

- Refers to bacterial cells that are able to take up exogenous DNA

Complementary DNA
- See cDNA

- Process by which genes on different DNA molecules interact. Usually a protein product is involved, as this is a diffusible molecule that can exert its effect away from the DNA itself. For example, a lacZ+ gene on a plasmid can complement a mutant (lacZ-) gene on the chromosome by enabling the synthesis of ß-galactosidase

Computational biology
– Also known as bioinformatics. The use of techniques from applied mathematics, informatics, statistics, and computer science to solve biological problems.

- A DNA molecule composed of a number of individual pieces joined together via cohesive ends

- Plasmid-mediated transfer of genetic material from a 'male' donor bacterium to a 'female' recipient

Consensus sequence
- A sequence that is found in most examples of a particular genetic element, and which shows a high degree of conservation. An example is the CAAT box.

Copy number
- (1)The number of plasmid molecules in a bacterial cell.
- (2) The number of copies of a gene in the genome of an organism

- A hybrid vector made up of plasmid sequences and the cohesive ends of the bacteriophage lambda

- A soft fibre that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant, a shrub native to the tropical and subtropical regions of both the Old World and the New World. The fibre is most often spun into thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile.

Cotton Leaf Worm
- cotton pest, a voracious leaf feeder sensitive to most all cotton insecticides.

- A small beige bean of the legume family with a round black "eye" located at its inner curve. Also called the "black-eyed pea." Varieties with yellow "eyes" are called "yellow-eyed peas."

- To grow living organisms in a prepared medium or media.

Culture medium
- A nutrient system for artificially growing bacteria or other cells.

- a type of protein whose function is to carry electrons or protons (hydrogen ions) by virtue of the reversible charging/discharging of an iron atom or iron/sulfur atoms in the center of the protein.

- A plant hormone that promotes cell division. It is usually found in the roots, young fruits and in seeds.

Cytosine (C)
- Nitrogenous base found in DNA and RNA


D terms

Damsel Bug (Nabis sp.)
- They are abundant in gardens, orchards and field crops such as cotton and soybeans, where they feed on caterpillar eggs, small larvae, aphids, fleahoppers, lygus bugs, leafhoppers, treehoppers and spider mites. They will also prey on other beneficial insects such as minute pirate bugs and big-eyed bugs. Although they will also feed on some plants, they cause no damage.

Deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP)
- Triphosphorylated ('high energy') precursor required for synthesis of DNA, where N refers to one of the four bases (A, G, T or C)

Deoxyribonuclease (DNase)
- A nuclease enzyme that hydrolyzes (degrades) single- and double-stranded DNA

- A plant with two cotyledons or seed leaves. Dicots are also called broadleaves and usually have leaf veins in a netlike pattern and a tap root.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
- The chemical molecule that is the basic genetic material found in all cells. DNA is inherited. Because DNA is a very long, thin molecule, it is packaged into units called chromosomes. DNA belongs to a class of biological molecules called nucleic acids.

- The sugar found in DNA

Dideoxynucleoside triphosphate (ddNTP)
- A modifed form of dNTP used as a chain terminator in DNA sequencing

DNA fingerprinting (or DNA typing)
- A technique for identifying individual organisms based upon the uniqueness of their DNA pattern. The technique has applications in forensics, paternity testing, anthropology, conservation biology and ecological research.

DNA gyrase
- The protein responsible for relaxing the tension on the double helix owing to supercoiled twists brought about by the unwinding of the double helix without rotation; also called helix-unwinding protein

DNA ligase
- An enzyme that rejoins cut pieces of DNA.

DNA polymerase
- The enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of DNA from the deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate under the direction of a template DNA strand

DNA probe
- A molecule that has been labeled with a radioactive isotope, dye or enzyme and is used to locate a particular portion of a DNA molecule.

DNA sequence
- The order of nucleotide bases in the DNA molecule.

- Technique in which small spots, or dots, of nucleic acid are immobilized on a nitrocellulose or nylon membrane for hybridization

Double helix
- A term used to describe the configuration of a DNA molecule. The helix consists of two spiraling strands of nucleotides held together with chemical bonds.


E terms

Escherichia coli
- A bacterium commonly found in the intestinal tracts of most vertebrates. It is used extensively in recombinant DNA research because it has been genetically well characterized.

- A technique of separating molecules based on their differential mobility in an electric field

- Technique for introducing DNA into cells by giving a transient electric pulse

- An enzyme that hydrolyzes internal phosphodiester bonds in a polynucleotide

- A sequence that enhances trasncription from the promoter of a eukaryotic gene. May be several thousand base-pairs away from the promoter.

- A protein that accelerates the rate of chemical reactions. Enzymes are catalysts that promote reactions repeatedly, without being damaged by the reactions.

- Genetic elements (DNA molecule) that may exist either as an integral part of the host chromosome or as independentky replicating DNA molecule (plasmid) free of the host chromosome

Ethidium bromide
- A molecule that binds to DNA and fluoresces when viewed under ultraviolet light. Used as a stain for DNA.

- A gaseous plant hormone that stimulates fruit ripening and the dropping of leaves.

- Region of a eukaryotic gene that is expressed via mRNA

- An enzyme that hydrolyzes terminal phosphodiester bonds in a polynucleotide

- The physical manifestation of the information contained in a gene.


F terms

- A process of growing microorganisms to produce various chemical or pharmaceutical compounds. Microbes are usually incubated under specific conditions in large tanks called fermenters. Fermentation is a specific type of bioprocessing.

Frameshift mutation
- A mutation caused by either the insertion or deletion of a number od nucleotide pairs in DNA, the effect of which is a change in the reading frame of codens in an mRNA molecule during the protein synthesis, resulting in an abnormal aminoacid sequence


G terms

- An enzyme encoded by the lacZ gene. Splits lactose into glucose and galactose.

Gel electrophoresis
- Technique for separtaing nucleic acid molecules on the basis of their movement through a gel matrix under the influence of an electric field

- A unit of hereditary information. A gene is a section of a DNA molecule that specifies the production of a particular protein.

Gene amplification
- The increase, within a cell, of the number of copies of a given gene.

Gene bank
- See genomic library

Gene cloning
- The isolation of individual genes by generating recombinant DNA molecules, which are then propagated in a host cell which produces a clone that contains a single fragment of the target DNA

Gene flow
- The movement of genes from one population to another by way of interbreeding of individuals in the two populations

Gene mapping
- Determining the relative locations of genes on a chromosome.

Gene pyramiding
-the process by which more than one gene is introducedinto a cell, so that the host cell will eventually express more than one new trait.

Genetic code
- The way genetic information is stored in living organisms.

Genetic engineering
- The technique of removing, modifying or adding genes to a DNA molecule in order to change the information it contains. By changing this information, genetic engineering changes the type or amount of proteins an organism is capable of producing.

- It belongs to the isoflavone class of flavonoids. It is also classified as a phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens are plant-derived nonsteroidal compounds that possess estrogen-like biological activity. Genistein has been found to have both weak estrogenic and weak anti-estrogenic effects.

- The total hereditary material of a cell.

- The field of study that seeks to understand the structure and function of all genes in an organism based on knowing the organism's entire DNA sequence, with extensive reliance on powerful computer technologies.

- The specific genetic makeup of an organism, as contrasted with the actual characteristics of an organism (see phenotype).

- A plant molecular produced in response to environmental stresses, including extreme salt, drought, temperature, and light conditions.

- Any of various juicy fruit of the genus Vitis with green or purple skins; grow in clusters of edible berries

Green Lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea)
- Pale green insect preying on aphids. Found in cotton, sweet corn, potatoes, cole crops, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, asparagus, leafy greens, apples, strawberries, and other crops infested by aphids.

- Flowerless, seed-bearing land plants; the first seed plants; living groups include the pines, ginkgos, and cycads.


H terms

- a substance used in agriculture, horticulture and gardening to control unwanted plants. Herbicides can be selective, and kill selected species, or non-selective (broad spectrum), and kill all plants.

- A measure of resemblance between relatives. In the broad sense,

- Basic protein complexed with DNA in the chromosomes of eukaryotes

- A gene from one species, for example the mouse, that has a common origin and functions the same as a gene from another species, for example, humans, Drosophila, or yeast.

- An offspring or cross between two genetically unlike individuals

- Production of offspring, or hybrids, from genetically dissimilar parents. In selective breeding, it usually refers to the offspring of two different species.

- A type of hybrid cell produced by fusing a normal cell with a tumor cell. When lymphocytes (antibody-producing cells) are fused to the tumor cells, the resulting hybridomas produce antibodies and maintain rapid, sustained growth, producing large amounts of an antibody. Hybridomas are the source of monoclonal antibodies.


I terms

- A technique for identifying substances, based on the use of antibodies.

- The coupling of an antibody and a molecule that is toxic to the cell.

- A non-coding nucleotide sequence in eukaryotic DNA, separating two portions of nucleotide sequences found to be contiguous in the mRNA; also called intervening sequence.

In vitro
- Performed in a test tube or other laboratory apparatus.

In vitro selection
- Selection at the cellular or callus stage of individuals possessing certain traits, such as herbicide resistance.

In vivo
- In the living organism.

- A protein produced naturally by the cells of our bodies. It increases the resistance of surrounding cells to attacks by viruses. One type of interferon, alpha interferon, is effective against certain types of cancer. Others may prove effective in treating autoimmune diseases.

- A protein produced naturally by our bodies to stimulate our immune systems. There are at least 18 known kinds of interleukins.

- An estrogen-like substance made by some plants, including the soy plant. Soy isoflavones are being studied in the prevention of cancer, hot flashes that occur with menopause, and osteoporosis (loss of bone density).


J terms

Jasmonic acid
- A compound distributed throughout higher plants, where it is thought to operate as a "master switch" responsible for the activation of signal transduction pathways in response to predation and pathogen attack


K terms

- An antibiotic of the aminoglycoside family that poisons translation by binding to the ribosomes.


L terms

- Insects belonging to the family Cicadellidae in the order Hemiptera. They are recognized by their piercing-sucking mouthparts and by the presence of rows of spine-like setae (hairs) in their hind tibiae.

- A white blood cell, an important component of the body's immune system.

- The second largest order of insects comprising butterflies, skippers, and moths.

- A measure of the tendency of some genes to be inherited as a group rather than individually because of the proximity of their loci in the chromosome

- a phytochemical; it is a powerful anti-oxidant that has been shown to neutralize free radicals. Lycopene belongs to the family of carotenoids.

- A type of leukocyte found in the blood, lymph nodes and certain organs. Lymphocytes are continuously made in the bone marrow (see also B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes).


M terms

- A type of white blood cell that ingests dead tissue and cells and is involved in producing Interleukin 1.

- Tall annual cereal grass bearing kernels on large ears. Widely cultivated, with many varieties. the principal cereal in Mexico and Central and South America since pre-Columbian times

Marker Assisted Selection (MAS)
- Use of genetic markers for selection of a linked characteristic, trait, or disease associated gene

Marker gene
- Genes that identify which plants have been successfully transformed.

- A large set of cloned DNA molecules spotted onto a solid matrix (such as a microscope slide) for use in probing a biological sample to determine gene expression, marker pattern or nucleotide sequence of DNA/RNA. Also known as the DNA Chip.

miRNA or MicroRNA
- A form of single-stranded RNA which is typically 20-25 nucleotides long, and is thought to regulate the expression of other genes.

- Repetitive stretches of short DNA sequences that are used as markers to track the inheritance of genes.

- A small grain used for food, often mixed with other grain.

Messenger RNA/mRNA
- A single stranded RNA molecule that codes the sequence of amino acids in protein synthesis, thus representing transcription of structural genes

- Intermediates and products of metabolism. primary metabolite is essential for normal growth, development, and reproduction. A secondary metabolite is not essential for normal growth, development and reproduction, but usually has important ecological functions. Examples include antibiotics and pigments.

Molecular genetics
- The study of the molecular structure and function of genes.

- A genetically modified corn line with inherent resistance to the European Corn Borer. This line has already been commercialized, and is currently being planted in several countries.

Monoclonal antibody
- Highly specific, purified antibody that is derived from only one clone of cells and recognizes only one antigen.

- Plants with one seed leaf. Flower parts usually in multiples of three, including grasses and some flowering plants.

- Primary alcohols found in plant matter which play a role in the reduction of cholesterol and in stimulating apoptosis. Monoterpenes also increase the levels of liver enzymes involved in detoxifying carcinogens. This in turn appears to have anti-tumour and anticarcinogenic effects.

- Principal derivative of opium, which is the juice in the unripe seed pods of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum. It was first isolated from opium in 1803 by the German pharmacist F. W. A. Sertürner, who named it after Morpheus, the god of dreams. Given intravenously, it is still considered the most effective drug for the relief of pain.
Source: “Morphine”.

- Changes in the gene which are heritable and essentially permanent

Mutator gene
- A gene that increases the mutation rate of other genes in the same organism

- Many genes are involved in the expression of a trait.

- A substance that induces mutations.

- A cell microorganism that manifests new characteristics due to a change in its genetic material.

- A change in the genetic information.


N terms

- Tthe creation of materials, devices, and systems through the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules.

Nucleic acid
- A biological molecule composed of a long chain of nucleotides. DNA is made of thousands of four different nucleotides repeated randomly.

- A nuclear organelle of eukaryotes, associated with the chromosomal site of genes coding for rRNA

- The basic structural unit of eukaryotic chromosome, composed of an octomer and DNA

- A compound made up of these three components: a sugar, phosphate and a nitrogen-containing base. Found as individual molecules (e.g., ATP, the "energy molecule"), or as many nucleotides linked together in a chain (nucleic acid such as DNA).

- A membrane-enclosed organelle of the eukaryote that contains the chromosomes and nucleolus

- The science of nutrigenomics seeks to provide a molecular understanding for how common dietary chemicals (i.e., nutrition) affect health by altering the expression and/or structure of an individual’s genetic makeup. The conceptual basis for this new branch of genomic research can best be summarized by the following Five Tenets of Nutrigenomics:

  • Under certain circumstances and in some individuals, diet can be a serious risk factor for a number of diseases.
  • Common dietary chemicals can act on the human genome, either directly or indirectly, to alter gene expression or structure.
  • The degree to which diet influences the balance between healthy and disease states may depend on an individual’s genetic makeup.
  • Some diet-regulated genes (and their normal, common variants) are likely to play a role in the onset, incidence, progression, and/or severity of chronic diseases.
  • Dietary intervention based on knowledge of nutritional requirement, nutritional status, and genotype (i.e., “personalized nutrition”) can be used to prevent, mitigate or cure chronic disease.



O terms

- A species of cereal grain. Used for food, and as fodder for animals, especially poultry and horses.

- Any of a class of unsaturated open-chain hydrocarbons such as ethylene, having the general formula CnH2n; an alkene with only one carbon-carbon double bond.
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

- A gene thought to be capable of producing cancer.

- The study of tumors.

- A group of functionally related structural genes mapping close to one another in the chromosome, transcribed into a single mRNA, and the adjacent transcriptional control sites (promoter and operator)

Opiate Drugs
- Any of a group of drugs derived from opium. Used medicinally to relieve pain and induce sleep, they include codeine, morphine, the morphine derivative heroin, and, formerly, laudanum. Sometimes included in the group are certain synthetic drugs that have morphine-like pharmacological action. All opiates are considered controlled substances by U.S. law and are available only by prescription. Heroin is not available legally at all in the United States.
Source: “Opiate Drugs”.


P terms

- A sequence symbols that reads identically in both directions

Parasitoid Wasp (Macrocentrus cingulum)
important parasitoid of the European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis, in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states.

- A small, edible round green bean which grows in a pod on the leguminous vine Pisum sativum, an annual plant.

- Common legume also known as a groundnut, eaten on its own, or used to make peanut butter and peanut oil.

Pearl millet
– Tall, spiky grass grown for its grain and for forage; sometimes used in making beer.

Peptide bond
- A covalent bond formed between the amino group of one amino acid and the COOH group of another, with the elimination of water

Perennial Ryegrass
- European perennial grass widely cultivated for pasture and hay and as a lawn grass

- The observable characteristics of an organism as opposed to the set of genes it possesses (its genotype).The phenotype that an organism manifests is a result of both genetic and environmental factors. Therefore, organisms with the same genotype may display different phenotypes due to environmental factors. Conversely, organisms with the same phenotypes may have different genotypes.

- the process by which plants, some bacteria, and some protistans use the energy from sunlight to produce sugar, which cellular respiration converts into ATP.

- Pigeon peas are important commercially in India. Pigeon pea varieties are classified as tree type, tall varieties and dwarf. New hybrids are similar in height to Southern peas and beans. Pigeon peas must be grown as an annual in most parts of the U.S. since plants are killed by freezing temperatures. The plant is a vigorous, drought-tolerant legume which provide large pods that are easily harvested. This pea is a heavy bearer, yielding sweet tasting peas. It is suited for early planting and will succeed under hot growing conditions.

Pink Bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella)
- Important pest of cotton

Pink Spotted Lady Beetle (Coleomegilla maculata)
- Bright red to pink insect, with black spots on the wing covers and pronotum.
Important predator of aphids.

Pirate Bug (Orius insidiosus)
- Insect found on a number of important crops including most deciduous fruits, corn, cotton, soybeans, alfalfa and grapes. Primary sources of food are aphids, phytophagous mites, insect eggs, and soft bodied insects.

- A small, circular piece of DNA found outside the chromosome in bacteria. Plasmids are the principal tools for inserting new genetic information into microorganisms or plants.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
- A technique for quickly making many copies of a specific segment of DNA.

- The presence of several forms of a trait or a gene in a population

- An edible tuber native to South America, having underground stolons bearing edible starchy tubers, and poisonous vines. widely cultivated as a garden vegetable

- A substance that is required for a polymerization reaction (e.g., DNA synthesis) and is structurally similar to the product of the reaction itself

- Organisms whose genetic material is not enclosed by a nucleus. The most common examples are bacteria.

- A nucleotide sequence in the operon system that is recognized by RNA polymerase as the site at which to begin transcription of RNA

- A complex biological molecule composed of a chain of units called amino acids. Proteins have many different functions: structure(collagen); movement (actin and myosin); catalysis (enzymes); transport (hemoglobin); regulation of cellular processes (insulin); and response to the stimuli (receptor proteins on surface of all cells).The information for making proteins is stored in the sequence of nucleotides in the DNA molecule.

Protein engineering
- A technique used in the production of proteins with new or artificial amino acid sequences.

- A plant or bacterial cell that has had its cell wall removed.


Q terms

Quantitive Trait Locus
- Quantative trait locus (QTL) is a region of DNA that is associated with a particular measurable trait (e.g., plant height). Though not necessarily genes themselves, QTLs are stretches of DNA that are closely linked to the genes that underlie the trait in question.


R terms

- a plant widely grown for its industrial oil in the 1940's. In the 1960's breeding efforts led to the removal of two compounds, erucic acid and glucosinolates, changing the plant to an edible oilseed now called canola.

Recombinant DNA
- DNA that is formed through combining DNA from two different sources. Humans direct the formation of recombinant DNA through selective breeding and genetic engineering.

Recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology
- The laboratory manipulation of DNA in which DNA, or fragments of DNA from different sources, are cut and recombined using enzymes. This recombinant DNA is then inserted into a living organism. rDNA technology is usually used synonymously with genetic engineering.

- The formation of new combinations of genes. Recombination occurs naturally in plants and animals during the production of sex cells (sperm, eggs, pollen) and their subsequent joining in fertilization. In microbes, genetic material is recombined naturally during conjugation.

- The process of growing an entire plant from a single cell or group of cells.

Regulatory gene
- A gene that codes for a repressor, which in turn regulates the genetic transcription of structural genes in an operon by binding to the operator locus

- A protein that binds to the operator locus and thereby inhibits the transcription of adjacent genes by blocking the RNA polymerase from the promoter for those genes

Restriction enzymes
- Bacterial enzymes that cleave DNA at very specific locations.

Restriction map
- A diagram that shows restriction sites (i.e., where a restriction enzyme cleaves DNA) in relation to one another.

Restriction Fragment Lenght Polymorphism (RFLP)
- Term that denotes the differences in molecular weight of homologous fragments of restriction enzyme-digested genomic DNA sometimes observed in two genetically distinct individuals

Ribosomal RNA/rRNA
- The RNA molecule that associates with the ribosomal protein to form the ribosome

- An organelle, consisting of two subunits of RNA and proteins, that synthesizes polypeptide whose amino acid sequences are specified by the nucleotide sequences of the mRNA

- (genus Oryza) is a plant of the grass family which feeds more than half of the world's human population. Rice cultivation is well suited to countries with low labor costs, but high rainfall as it is very labor-intensive to cultivate and requires plenty of water for irrigation. Rice is the world's third largest crop, behind maize (corn) and wheat.

RNA (Ribonucleic acid)
- Like DNA, a type of nucleic acid. There are three major types: messenger RNA, transfer RNA, and ribosomal RNA. All are involved in the synthesis of proteins from the information contained in the DNA molecule.

RNAi (RNA interference)
- A gene silencing phenomenon whereby double-stranded RNAs trigger the specific degradation of a homologous mRNA.

RNA polymerase
- The enzyme responsible for the transcription of the information encoded in the DNA into RNA; also called transcriptase

- A tree belonging to the family Euphorbiaceae. Of major economical importance due to its sap (or latex) which the primary source of natural rubber.


S terms

Salicylic acid
- A plant hormone used by humans as a drug to treat skin infections

- The stage of growth in a plant or plant part from maturity to death, characterized by an accumulation of metabolic products, an increased respiratory rate, and a loss in dry weight.

- Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. Most who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacterium. The diarrhea is often bloody. Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 to 7 days. In some persons, especially young children and the elderly, the diarrhea can be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. A severe infection with high fever may also be associated with seizures in children less than 2 years old. Some persons who are infected may have no symptoms at all, but may still pass the Shigella bacteria to others.

- A genus of cereal grasses with a large number of species, cultivated throughout the world for food, forage, and syrup. It is the world's third largest food grain.

- Erect bushy hairy annual herb having trifoliate leaves and purple to pink flowers; extensively cultivated for food and forage and soil improvement but especially for its nutritious oil-rich seeds; native to Asia

Spotless Ladybird Beetle (Cycloneda munda)
- Round, spotless ladybird. Preys on aphids.

Striped Stemborer
- insect of Order Lepidoptera, with larvae that bore into plant stems and doing damage while feeding inside the stem. Pest of rice

Structural gene
- A gene that codes for the amino acid sequence of a apecific polypeptide or protein

Substantial Equivalence
- A principle inherent in the safety assessment process that compares a genetically modified food with a conventional non-modified food with a long history of safe use. If the modified food has essentially all the characteristics of the non-modified food with respect to food and feed value it is said to be substantially equivalent.

Sugar Beet
- Form of the common beet having a sweet white root from which sugar is obtained

- Tall tropical southeast Asian grass having stout fibrous jointed stalks, whose sap is a chief source of sugar


T terms

- A single-stranded DNA, complementary to nascent RNA or DNA strand, that serves to specify the nucleotide sequence of the nascent strand

- A nucleotide sequence in DNA that causes the RNA polymerase to cease transcription

Tissue culture
- A procedure for growing or cloning enough cells through in vitro techniques to make a tissue.

Tobacco Whitefly (Bemisia tabaci)
- The tobacco whitefly, and important crop pest and vector of over 60 plant viruses

- A mildly acid red or yellow pulpy fruit from the nightshade family (like the potato and eggplant) native to South America

- The transfer of genetic information encoded in the nucleotide sequence of the DNA into a nucleotide sequence of an RNA molecule

- The transfer of DNA from one cell to another, effected by a virus

Transfer RNA/tRNA
- Special RNA molecules that are associated with specific amino acids to form aminoacyl-tRNAs. They transfer their amino acids to growing polypeptide chain during protein synthesis

- A change in the genetic structure of an organism as a result of the uptake and incorporation of foreign DNA.

Transgenic organism
- A genetically engineered organism to which gene(s) from unrelated or related species or family have been introduced and have become part of its genome

Transition mutation
- A base-pair substitution mutation resulting in the replacement of one purine by another purine or of one pyrimidine by another pyrimidine

- The process of biosynthesis of a polypeptide chain using genetic instructions from the mRNA

- A mobile genetic element that can move from one location in the gene and reinsert at another site.

Transversion mutation
- A base-pair substitution mutation resulting in the replacement of a purine by a pyrimidine or vice versa


V terms

- The agent used to carry new DNA into a cell. Viruses or plasmids are often used as vectors.

- An infectious agent composed of a single type of nucleic acid, DNA or RNA, enclosed in a coat of protein. Viruses can multiply only within living cells.


W terms

- Annual or biennial grass having erect flower spikes and light brown grains. The second-largest cereal crop, tied with maize; the third being rice. Wheat grain is a staple food used to make flour, livestock feed, and as an ingredient in the brewing of beer.


X terms

Xanthomonas oryzae
- Bacterium. Causative agent of bacterial leaf streak in rice

- Xanthophylls are the typical yellow pigments of leaves. These are oxygenated carotenoids that are synthesized within the plastids. Xanthophylls do not require light for synthesis, so that xanthophylls are present in all young leaves as well as in etiolated leaves.

Xanthophylls in leaves have an important function as accessory pigments, capturing certain wavelengths of sunlight not absorbed by chlorophylls, and thereby increasing overall absorptance of the visible spectrum of sunlight.
Source: “Xanthophylls”



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