By Faye Farmer
Illustrated by Sabine Deviche
show/hide words to know
- DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid is the information "blue-print" of the cell. It is a nucleic acid and is made from building blocks called nucleotides. This genetic information is passed from parent to child... more
- Differentiation: when a cell chooses a particular genetically determined path that causes it to perform only a few specialized tasks... more
- Egg: a female gamete, which keeps all the parts of a cell after fusing with a sperm.
- Ewe: pronounced "you," a female, or girl, sheep.
- Gamete: specialized cells found in your reproductive organs that have half the amount of DNA of somatic cells. These cells combine to make a fertilized egg... more
- Gene: a region of DNA where a specific set of instructions for one trait is kept. We get some of our genes from our mother and some from our father... more
- Nucleus: where DNA stays in the cell, plural is nuclei.
- Organism: a living thing that can be small like bacteria or large like an elephant.
- Somatic cells: the cells in your body, except for gametes. Soma is Latin for body.
- Sperm: a male gamete, which only transfers its DNA to the egg... more
Introduction to Cloning
Have you ever sat down to do your homework, looked out of the window and said, "There should be two of me. One to stay here and do my homework and one to play out there." Think of the possibilities! What trouble could you get into if there were two of you? How much fun could you have? If only you had your very own clone! Or maybe you do have your very own clone...
We do have clones living among us today. These clones are called identical twins. A clone is an organism, plant or animal that has the exact same genetic blueprint as another organism. If we have clones everywhere around us, what's the big deal about cloning?
Cloning that is covered by the news today is special because we can manipulate cells in such a specific way that we can create clones outside of the body. We are also able to choose which genetic blueprint we want to insert into the cell. The technology came about by studying cells from plants and animals. Scientists discovered what cells require to grow and divide outside the body, what cells need to become specialized cells, and how to use technology to replace the genetic material of a cell.
The first mammal to be cloned was a sheep named "Dolly." Dolly has the genetic material of a white faced sheep, but her mother was a black faced sheep. Since then, several other animals have been cloned and maybe even some people.
This technology is being used more and more by scientists. Cloning is still not an exact science and we do not really know the overall effects of cloning on the organism's health. These issues create some important ethical questions about how we use this technology today and how we will use it in the future.
Credits: Mannequins image via Bioethics.com. Publised under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0.