Recombinant DNA technology: Procedures used to join together DNA segments in a cell-free system (e.g. in a test tube outside living cells or organisms). Under appropriate conditions, a recombinant DNA molecule can be introduced into a cell and copy itself (replicate), either as an independent entity (autonomously) or as an integral part of a cellular chromosome.
Ribonucleic Acid (RNA): A chemical substance made up of nucleotides compound of sugars, phosphates, and derivatives of the four bases adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and uracil (U). RNAs function in cells as messengers of information from DNA that are translated into protein or as molecules that have certain structural or catalytic functions in the synthesis of proteins. RNA is also the carrier of genetic information for certain viruses. RNAs may be single or double stranded.
Selectable marker: A gene, often encoding resistance to an antibiotic or an herbicide, introduced into a group of cells to allow identification of those cells that contain the gene of interest from the cells that do not. Selectable markers are used in genetic engineering to facilitate identification of cells that have incorporated another desirable trait that is not easy to identify in individual cells.
Selective breeding: Making deliberate crosses or matings of organisms so the offspring will have particular desired characteristics derived from one or both of the parents.
Traditional breeding: Modification of plants and animals through selective breeding. Practices used in traditional plant breeding may include aspects of biotechnology such as tissue culture and mutational breeding.
Transgene: A gene from one organism inserted into another organism by recombinant DNA techniques.
Transgenic organism: An organism resulting from the insertion of genetic material from another organism using recombinant DNA techniques.
Variety: A subdivision of a species for taxonomic classification also referred to as a 'cultivar.' A variety is a group of individual plants that is uniform, stable, and distinct genetically from other groups of individuals in the same species.
Vector: 1. A type of DNA element, such as a plasmid, or the genome of a bacteriophage, or virus, that is self-replicating and that can be used to transfer DNA segments into target cells. 2. An insect or other organism that provides a means of dispersal for a disease or parasite.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Note: These terms and definitions are intended for general educational purposes only. They are not intended to replace any definitions currently in use in any U.S. Government laws or regulations, nor are they legally binding on the actions of any Government agency. For specific definitions that apply to any law or regulation of any Government agency, please consult directly with that agency.