History of Genetic Engineering

History of Genetic Engineering

Does the vast scope of genetic engineering never cease to amaze you? Are you interested to know where and how it all began? Just go through this article to know all about the history of genetic engineering.
The history of genetic engineering can be traced back to the prehistoric times when man used selective breeding and cross breeding to develop better species of food grains and livestock. The mule is one example. It is a cross between a male donkey and a female horse, which was developed by the process of interspecies breeding and has been in existence for thousands of years now. Darwin's famous book, The Origin of Species tells us a lot about what all the people of the time knew about breeding. Today, genetic engineering is advancing at such a rate that there will soon come a time when nothing would be impossible for man. Let's have a look at the genetic engineering history timeline to know about the milestones achieved in this field.

History of Genetic Engineering in Animals

Here we shall have a look at the major events in the field of genetic engineering that contributed to the development of new species of animals as well as advancements in the field of medicine. We would begin with the 19th century and would gradually proceed to the present.

The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin was published and it gave an account of the knowledge people had about selective breeding.

Gregor Mendel laid the foundation of modern genetics with his pathbreaking experiment of crossbreeding pea plants (Pisum sativum) with different characteristics and his observations served as the basis for the principles of genetics.

Ernst Haeckel discovered that the genetic material of a cell resides in its nucleus.

First animal, a rabbit, was created by the process of in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Mendel's principles of genetics were rediscovered by Hugo de Vries, Erich von Tschermak and Carl Correns.

  • The chromosome theory of inheritance was proposed by Walter Sutton & Theodor Boveri.
  • While studying the symptoms of a disease known as alkaptonuria, Archibald Garrod learned that defects in enzymes and enzyme secretion are caused by defective genes.
T. H. Morgan proved that genetic material is present within the chromosome.

The phenomenon of physical recombination of DNA was discovered.

The role of enzymes in the growth of an organism was established by George Beadle and E. L. Tatum.

By carrying out experiments on bacteria, Oswald Avery established the role of DNA in genetics.

  • James Watson and Francis Crick proposed the double helix structure of DNA for the first time.
  • Artificial insemination was carried out for the first time in humans.
Semiconservative nature of DNA replication was established.

Unraveling of the genetic code was done by Marshall Nirenberg and Har Gobind Khorana.

Discovery of endonucleases or DNA "cutting" enzymes was done by Stewart Linn and Werner Arber.

The first experiment on recombinant DNA cloning was performed by Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen.

Prenatal genetic diagnosis with the help of DNA, was discovered.

Sequence of bases in DNA was discovered by Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger.

The world's first test tube baby, Louise Brown was born on 25th July, 1978 through in vitro fertilization (IVF). It was a landmark achievement in the field of genetic engineering in humans.

Method of producing insulin using genetic engineering, was discovered.

The first genetically modified mouse was developed.

Polymerase chain reaction in DNA was discovered by Kary Mullis.

Birth of a human baby took place from frozen embryo.

Embryo cells from sheep were cloned.

Transgenic mice were developed that were born with human genes.

Launching of the Human Genome Project to map the entire human genome, was done by James Watson and others.

Gene therapy was first tried and tested on humans.

Heart of a genetically modified pig that contained human genes, was transplanted into baboons.

Dolly, the first cloned animal, was a sheep born from a mammary cell of an adult sheep as nucleus donor and an enucleated ovum as recipient.

Lee Bo-yon of Kyunghee University in South Korea claimed to have successfully developed the first human clone. However, he was banned from going ahead with the experiment.

On the 26th June, 2000, the leaders of the publicly sponsored Human Genome Project (HGP) and the company, Celera Genomics, announced the completion of the first draft of the human genome.

  • Birth of the world's first genetically modified human babies, took place.
  • The first ever human clone was successfully developed at the Advanced Cell Technologies, USA.
First 'true' human clones were developed at the Seoul National University in South Korea.

History of Genetic Engineering in Agriculture

Now, let's have a look at the important events in the history of genetic engineering in agriculture.

Using Gregor Mendel's principles of genetics, scientists in Europe developed a process termed as "classic selection", which was a type of cross breeding, to improve the characteristics of plant species.

First in-vitro or test-tube plants were developed.

Ti plasmid, which is used for genetically engineering plants, was first developed.

First transgenic plant (tobacco) was developed.

The first field tests of genetically engineered crops (tobacco and tomato) were conducted in the United States.

The first transgenic corn was developed.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first genetically modified food.

Transgenic tomatoes were released in the market for the first time.

This was all about the history of genetic engineering. The researchers in this field are coming up with something new almost everyday. So, what we see as the latest development today, will be a part of history tomorrow!