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Mutations, Mutations, Mutations!

In this module, we'll explore the techniques scientists use to manipulate DNA. Genetic engineering has allowed us to increase crop yields, diagnose illnesses, develop vaccines, and manufacture insulin. By carefully selecting a pair of molecular scissors (restriction enzymes), scientists are able to isolate a gene of interest and insert it into plasmid DNA, turning a common bacteria (E. coli) into a molecular copying machine. This week, we'll learn that mutations are genetic errors, but that not all mutations are necessarily bad — in fact, some mutations confer a selective advantage that protects against disease. We'll explain what genetically modified organisms are (and what they are not) and weigh in on the heated debates about the ethics and safety of GMOs in popular media.

McMaster University
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