The Agriculture discipline is very diverse because it incorporates crop and animal farming. Agriculture was the center of early civilization because the human race depended on agricultural products for survival (Eaton, 1998). Modern agriculture is very different from ancient agriculture due to the mergence of new technologies.
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The need for sustainable agriculture has made many farmers to shift from subsistence farming to commercial farming. Agricultural experts have come up with new technologies such as irrigation and selective breeding that have contributed a lot in increasing agricultural yields. Research and development in the field of agriculture plays a very critical role in coming up with new pesticides, fertilizers, high yielding crop varieties and most importantly modern management techniques (Andrews, 1994).
Biotechnology and genetic engineering are important aspects of the agriculture discipline that have taken it to a higher level. The incorporation of science in agriculture makes it to be a very wide discipline with many branches such as agricultural engineering, animal husbandry, agronomy, crop biotechnology and industrial agriculture (Clark, 2012).
Genetics is a biological discipline that deals with the study of heredity and the analysis of variations in organisms caused by heredity (Clark, 2012). The concept of genetics is very useful in biotechnology and genetic engineering. Genetics and heredity are much related because they are all concerned with generational passage of hereditary traits (Gelehrter, 1998).
Genetics is a field of biological study that has led to many scientific breakthroughs that have been useful in coming up with a variety of cures for various diseases. The genetics discipline has been evolving over time especially with the emergence of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is a branch of genetics that deals with a direct intervention in genetic processes in order to alter genetic materials (Clark, 2012).
Genetic engineering has been very useful in developing new treatments for certain diseases. The Human Genome Project has redefined the genetics discipline by introducing the study of the functioning of different genes in human cells (Khoury, 2000). The genetics discipline has a lot of application in environmental studies, clinical medicine and public health (Khoury, 2000).
The central dogma of the genetics discipline is based on Crick’s theory that came into place in 1963 (Khoury, 2000). Crick discovered the DNA double helix that formed the foundation of genetic science. According to Crick, the DNA double helix is a molecular structure that acts as an agent of inheritance in both plants and animals.
The central dogma of genetics assumes that the genome of an organism accounts for all of its inherited traits (McKusick, 1997). This theory by Crick failed after it was tested in the Human Genome Project. The scientific rationale of the Human Genome Project proved that Crick’s theory was wrong because there are very few human genes responsible for inherited traits.
The collapse of Crick’s theory was a setback to the genetics discipline because the foundations of genetic engineering are based on the central dogma premise. Biomedical research depends on the central dogma that has been around for over forty years (Tropp, 2011). The central dogma emphasizes that DNA is the exclusive agent of inheritance.
The DNA gene is composed of four distinct nucleotides strung together in a linear sequence (Tropp, 2012). According to Cricks’ theory, the genes in DNA segments give rise to inherited traits by undergoing a series of molecular processes. An inherited trait is a product of molecular processes in a single DNA gene. According to the central dogma in genetics, the totality of inheritance in living things is controlled by the DNA genes (Andrews, 1994).
The synthesis of proteins that are the main catalyst in the production of inherited traits is governed by genes (Eaton, 2012). According to Crick’s theory, the structural similarity between genes and proteins makes protein synthesis to be possible under the control of DNA genes. The DNA in a particular gene consists of subunits of molecules with a linear arrangement.
The sequence hypothesis compares the nucleotides in a gene and the sequence of amino acids in a protein. The formation of proteins takes place when the DNA nucleotides are transcribed to RNA molecules that are responsible for trait formation in living things (Vogel, 1997). A gene code from the DNA nucleotide is incorporated in protein formation to influence the inherited traits.
The RNA plays the role of a messenger because it facilitates the delivery of gene codes to the site of protein formation. The sequential order of amino acids is determined by the gene code during the process of protein formation (Vogel, 1997). According to the central dogma in genetics, each particular gene in a living thing has a correspondent protein.
The inherited traits of a person are represented by their genome (Rothstein, 1997). The genetic code in DNA is universal and can influence the formation of a particular trait in any kind of species. Every living thing has a DNA with four nucleotides that facilitate the formation of a specific protein. Any sequential information that goes into protein can not in any way come out (Task Force on Genetic Testing, 1998).
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This is the second doctrine of Crick’s theory that explains the source and the destination of genetic information. The DNA nucleotide sequence is the source and the protein amino acid sequences the final destination according to Crick’s theory. The central dogma gives the gene total power and influence on protein identify and the resultant inherited trait created by the protein (Clark, 2012).
The central dogma in the agriculture discipline is from Ralph’s theory (Clark, 2012). This theory led to the introduction of genetic engineering in agriculture. According to Ralph’s theory, the formation of takes place in corporate-like sequence.
The formation of inherited traits follows a sequence of directives from the DNA that acts as the top management. The RNA molecules act as middle management molecules that give directives to proteins that act as worker molecules (Tropp, 2012). This version of the central dogma is widely used in agricultural research.
According to Ralph’s theory; a particular gene can be transferred from one species to another without any problem. The central dogma of agriculture is the foundation upon which genetically modified seeds are produced (Tropp, 2012). Researchers incorporate alien genes with superior qualities in the host plant to come up with crops with superior qualities. Researchers manipulate genetic processes by introducing an alien gene in protein formation (Gelehrter, 1998).
The alien gene influences the inherited traits in a particular crop. Ralph’s theory is very essential in the production of transgenic plants. The presence of an alien gene does not in any way interfere with the natural complement of the plant’s DNA (Vogel, 1997). The protein mediated systems and the gene systems must be compatible for the modification process to be successful.
The bacterial gene is very essential in the production of transgenic plants through the genetic engineering process (Clark, 2012). Ralph’s theory often comes under pressure when the experiments to produce transgenic plants and other organisms fail due to the disruption of the host’s protein mediated systems. Ralph’s theory takes several years of testing for the desired results to be achieved (McKusick, 1997). Genetic engineering can lead to the production of harmful proteins due to the unexpected alteration of the plant’s genome.
Ralph’s theory of genetic engineering has experienced numerous failures as a result of the unpredictable disruption of the protein systems of the host pant (Eaton, 1998). DNA miscoding is one of the reasons why there are many experimental failures when it comes to production of transgenic plants. Genetic engineers have come up with modified seeds from corn, cotton and soya beans because the mentioned plants possess some proteins with the ability to repair all kinds of DNA miscoding (Vogel, 1997).
The Human Genome project demonstrated that the genetics central dogma by Crick was not convincing (Clark, 2012). The emergence of new facts that refute the one-to-one matching of genes and proteins is a great challenge to Crick’s theory. Some biologists argue that proteins lead to the formation of molecules like DNA but the central dogma emphasizes the opposite (Khoury, 2000).
The central dogma for genetics has generated a lot of interest in the study of molecular genetics in an attempt to find the secrete of life. The central dogma for the agriculture discipline needs to be re-examined because there is no guarantee that an alien gene can only transfer positive traits to the host plant (Andrews, 1994). Many genetic engineering experiments have failed due to the disruption of the genetic composition of the host plant.
Andrews, L. (1994). Assessing genetic risks. Implications for health and social policy. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Clark, D. (2012). Molecular Biology: Understanding the genetic revolution. London: Elsevier.
Eaton, D. (1998). “Genetic susceptibility” in environmental and occupational medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott-Raven.
Gelehrter, T. (1998). Principles of medical genetics. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins.
Khoury, M. (2000). Genetics and public health in the 21st century: Using genetic information to improve health and prevent disease. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
McKusick, V. (1997). Mendelian inheritance in man: A catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Rothstein, M. (1997). Genetic secrets: Protecting privacy and confidentiality in the genetic era. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Task Force on Genetic Testing (1998). Promoting safe and effective genetic testing in the United States. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Tropp, B. (2011). Molecular Biology 4E: Genes to proteins. London: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Vogel, F. (1997). Human genetics: Problems and approaches. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.