Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Cloning: Debunking the myth

Is it true that you can just instantly create carbon copies at exactly the same age? Well let’s find out.

Myth 1: Clones are made at the same age as the original:

Stormtroopers: Possible sci-fact? Or firmly sci-fi?

 

As I have explored in my previous posts, somatic cell cloning of anything can only result in the production of embryos. Sorry Stormtroopers but you’re physically and scientifically impossible.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have fully matured clones, but unfortunately you will have to wait many years for it to mature naturally.

Myth 2: Clones always identical to the donor animal:

Cloned cows, different appearances present themselves

Although cloned animals have the exact same genome, there is a very slight chance that they will be identical animals. They aren’t exact copies.

Not only can appearance be different, but also their personalities which is more common. So why is this?

Once a clone is produced, scientists have no control over which genes are activated and how these will be expressed. This means that while your cat might have a white spot on its chin, the clone may not. Moreover, personality is largely deemed to be more a product of nurture instead of nature like appearance is. As providing the same environment is nearly impossible, and even if you could, the same stimulus would still react differently to the clone and original which goes back to nature over nurture and genes activating differently between the two animals.

To exemplify this, a dairy cattle behavioural study was carried out. This study revealed that it didn’t matter about the originals traits, as 3 of the 5 clones outranked the other clones. As hierarchy is determined by size etc.

Myth 3: Cloning is relatively new technology:

While animal cloning has only been prevalent for around 50 years with the first successful clone being born in 1996, plant cloning has been around for thousands of years.

Although very simple, planting a cutting of a plant such as a rose etc. is an example of cloning, and merely consists of cutting a single stem and planting, that, with care, will grow into a mature plant that contains the exact same DNA as the original plant.

Example of how plants are grafted. Stock is the root system and scion is the desired plant.

A more complicated method of plant cloning is grafting which involves taking a cutting of one plant and then splicing it to another plant. Generally the top of a desirable plant such as a tomato plant is grafted to the roots of a tree that has strong, disease resistant roots.

So despite animal cloning being relatively new, plant cloning has been happening for centuries and is responsible for increased yield and lower ripening times of fruits and vegetables.


Sources:

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This entry was posted on May 10, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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