Glossary

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A

Amino Acid

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Existen 20 aminoácidos diferentes y cada uno tiene un grupo químico único y específico, el cual le otorga propiedades distintivas. The linear sequence of amino acids in a protein determines the structure and function of the protein. La secuencia de los aminoácidos en una proteína y, por lo tanto, su función son determinadas por el código genético.

Synonyms: amino acids

Antigenic

Any substance foreign to the body that evokes an immune response

Synonyms: Antigenics

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B

Bacterium

A single-celled organism which does not have a nucleus to store its hereditary material (DNA). Unlike plant and animal cells where the hereditary material (DNA) is linear, in bacteria, DNA is usually circular. The unique DNA characteristics of bacteria and its ability to reproduce very quickly make it ideal for use in certain biotechnology applications.

Synonyms: bacteria

Bioinformatics

The field of science in which biology, computer science and information technology merge to form a single discipline. Bioinformatics is used to test hypotheses on the function or structure of a gene or protein of interest by identifying similar sequences in better characterized organisms.

Synonyms: Bioinformatic

Biotechnology

Un conjunto de herramientas que utiliza organismos vivos (o partes de organismos) para elaborar o modificar un producto, mejorar plantas, árboles o animales, o desarrollar microorganismos para usos específicos. Examples of biotechnology include traditional applications, such as the making of bread, cheese, wine and beer, and more modern applications to grow or culture cells for research or to make genetically modified crops for food, feed, fuel and fiber.

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C

Cell

A cell is the smallest unit of life. Each cell contains everything that it needs to function. Some organisms such as bacteria are made up of only one cell. Multicellular organisms such as plants and humans may have millions of cells.

Synonyms: cells

Codon

Group of three nucleotides.

Synonyms: codons

Crop Protection Product

A product that control weeds and provide protection against insects and disease. The EPA regulates the use of all crop protection products that are used on crops grown in the U.S.

Synonyms: Crop Protection Products

Cross-prime

Adding substances to stimulate immune cells

Synonyms: cross-primes

Cultivar

Short for cultivated varieties; plants that are maintained by cultivation – cuttings, grafts or other vegetative propagation – and not from seeds

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D

DNA

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary genetic material for most living organisms. DNA is present in cells in the form of a double-stranded helix that is composed of long strands of nucleotides. La secuencia única de nucleótidos dentro de la molécula de ADN almacena la información genética.

Domestication

Process by which plants or animals are changed via selective breeding by humans, in order to bring out traits that benefit humans. Las plantas y los animales se domestican para diversos usos, lo que incluye alimentos, indumentaria, medicina y demás. Crop domestication began 10.000 years ago when humans began farming and forming societies.

Double-cross Method

Result from the cross between two different F1 hybrids, or single cross hybrids

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E

European Corn Borer

An insect — one of corn’s primary pests — that damages the ears of corn, as well as the stalks, by chewing tunnels, causing the corn plants to fall over. In recent years, the planting of genetically modified corn that is resistant to the European corn borer has helped farmers control this pest, drastically reducing the harm caused to their crop. Because of its effectiveness in controlling European corn borers and other similar pests, genetically modified corn has been adopted on about 63 percent of all U.S. corn acres.

Synonyms: European Corn Borers

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G

Gene

La unidad de herencia transmitida de generación en generación durante la reproducción sexual o asexual. En términos más generales, el término se utiliza en relación con la transmisión o herencia de características identificables particulares. The simplest gene consists of a segment of nucleic acid that encodes an individual protein or RNA.

Synonyms: Genes

Genetic Engineering

The name for certain methods used to introduce new traits or characteristics to an organism typically involving the use of recombinant DNA methods. Si bien a veces se hace referencia a estas técnicas como "modificación genética", se considera que "ingeniería genética" es un término más preciso.

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)

Often used to describe organisms developed using the tools of genetic engineering. En las plantas, los OGM comercialmente disponibles incluyen maíz (incluido el maíz dulce), soya, remolacha azucarera, algodón, alfalfa, papaya, calabaza, canola y patatas. Los agricultores eligen utilizar semillas genéticamente modificadas para reducir las pérdidas en la producción o los daños a los cultivos causados por malezas, enfermedades e insectos, así como los debidos a condiciones climáticas extremas, como las sequías.

Synonyms: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)s

Genome

La totalidad de la información hereditaria de un organismo, que contiene toda la información biológica necesaria para crear y mantener un espécimen vivo de ese organismo. An exact copy of the entire genome of the organism is in almost every cell.

Synonyms: Genomes

Germplasm

Plants, parts of plants, and seeds that contain the genetics of the plant and that can be used to generate more plants and seeds. Germplasm is often used as a resource for breeding, research and preservation.

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H

Heterosis

the increase in growth,size,yield, or other characters in hybrids over those of the parents (also called hybrid vigor)

Hexaploid

Containing six sets of chromosomes

Synonyms: Hexaploids

Hybrid Vigor

the increase in growth,size,yield, or other characters in hybrids over those of the parents (also called heterosis).

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M

Mutagenesis

A process by which an organism is genetically changed, resulting in a mutation, which is a change in the DNA sequence of a gene. It may occur naturally, for example, due to natural exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light or chemicals; or it can happen deliberately for the purpose of increasing genetic variation of a species. Mutagensis is a commonly used tool for plant breeding, in which researchers force the mutation of a plant’s genetics, for example, by exposing seeds to chemicals or irradiation to induce changes in their DNA. More than 2.200 crop varieties have been created with mutagenesis breeding. These crops are not considered GMOs and this technique is not considered genetic engineering. In fact, varieties developed using these techniques are considered to be “conventional” varieties and are allowed in organic production systems.

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N

Nucleotide

The basic structure of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) that, when linked together, form the building blocks of DNA or RNA. They are composed of a phosphate group, a nitrogenous base, and a sugar (deoxyribose or ribose). For all types of living organisms, there are four types of bases in DNA: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T). Thymine is replaced by Uracil (U) in RNA.

Synonyms: Nucleotides

Nucleus

The organelle of a plant or animal cell that contains the genetic information (DNA). A bacteria cell does not have a nucleus.

Synonyms: Nuclei

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P

Pathogen Derived Resistance

A technique used to protect plants from viruses or infection. The process introduces a plant to a mild strain of a virus to protect the plant from a more severe strain of that same or very closely related pathogen. Eventually, the plant may build resistance to the virus. This technique is similar in nature to a human vaccination, which aims to build an individual’s immunity to a virus or pathogen. Pathogen derived resistance is used to curb the negative impact viruses can have on crop production. The technique was used to make the Hawaiian papaya plant resistant to the deadly papaya ring spot virus and has been used to develop virus-resistant potatoes and squash.

Plant Breeding

The science of selecting and altering plants to increase their value by producing desirable traits such as increased quality or yield, virus resistance or increased tolerance to pests.

Plant Cell

Plant cells, like animal cells, have a nucleus that stores most of their DNA. Las células vegetales se diferencian de las células animales porque las primeras contienen plástidos, como el cloroplasto, que asisten en el almacenamiento y cosecha de las sustancias necesarias para la planta. Plant cells also have a rigid cell wall around the cell to help it keep its shape.

Synonyms: Plant Cells

Polyploidization

The act or process of polyploidizing, which causes a plant to become a polyploid, or a cell or organism containing more than two sets of chromosomes

Protein

Proteins are fundamental components of all living cells. Proteins are made up of one or more chains of amino acids, which are folded into a specific three-dimensional shape. Cuentan con una gran diversidad química y estructural, lo que les permite realizar una variedad extraordinaria de funciones biológicas. Las proteínas nos ayudan a digerir la comida, combatir infecciones, controlar la química corporal y, en general, a mantener el funcionamiento regular de nuestros cuerpos. Las expresiones de las proteínas, o complejos de proteínas, determinan las características de las plantas, como la tolerancia a herbicidas o la resistencia a insectos, y hasta la altura y el color de las flores.

Synonyms: Proteins

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R

Restriction enzyme

A restriction enzyme is a protein or protein complex that is produced by living cells and acts as a catalyst in specific biochemical reactions. A catalyst increases the rate of biochemical reaction but ultimately does not change it.

Synonyms: Restriction enzymes

RNA

RNA, or ribonucleic acid, is a chain of nucleotides that is made based on the DNA sequence. The structure of RNA is similar to the structure of DNA. RNA functions in many ways in cells, including playing the important role of carrying instructions from DNA during protein production. In certain viruses, RNA rather than DNA may carry the genetic information.

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S

Selective Breeding

The process of breeding plants (or animals) for desirable traits or for the elimination of a trait. Selective breeding has been used by humans for centuries to produce better crops. Desde el siglo XVIII, los agricultores y los científicos han cruzado plantas de diferentes especies y mezclado la composición genética de distintas plantas para seleccionar nuevas características deseables.

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T

Trait

Un rasgo de una planta. Traits are dependent on influence from genes, environment and management

Transgenic Organism

Organisms that have had genes from other species inserted into their genome. Transgenic means that one or more DNA sequences from another species have been introduced by artificial means. Transgenic plants can be made by introducing foreign DNA into a variety of different tissues.

Synonyms: Transgenic Organisms

Transposon

Small piece of plant DNA that inserts itself into another place in the plant’s genome.

Synonyms: Transposons

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U

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The USDA is a federal executive department of the U.S. It is responsible for developing and executing federal government policies relating to farming, agriculture and food. The USDA is informally known as the agriculture department. The USDA's mission is to "provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management."

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The purpose of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect and enhance the environment in the present and for future generations to the fullest extent possible under the laws enacted by Congress. The mission of the agency is to control and abate pollution in the areas of air, water, solid waste, noise, radiation and toxic substances. The mandate of the EPA is to mount an integrated, coordinated attack on environmental pollution in cooperation with state and local governments.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

One of the oldest consumer protection agencies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protects the public from unsafe foods, drugs, medical devices, cosmetics and other potential hazards. As part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the FDA annually regulates over $1 trillion worth of products, which account for one-fourth of all consumer spending in the United States. It also protects the rights and safety of patients in clinical trials of new medical products, monitors the promotional activities of drug and device manufacturers, regulates the labeling of all packaged foods and monitors the safety of the nation's blood supply.

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V

Variety

A plant containing a series of unique traits

Virus

A nonliving particle with a genome consisting of DNA or RNA that is dependent on another cell to replicate.

Synonyms: Viruses

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