Difference Between Cloning and Genetic Engineering

Main Difference – Cloning vs Genetic Engineering

Cloning and genetic engineering are two types of techniques in biotechnology that are used to produce beneficial organisms. Cloning is the creation of a perfect replica of a particular organism. Genetic engineering is the creation of a novel organism through the modification of the genome of a particular organism. The main difference between cloning and genetic engineering is that in cloning, the new organism is genetically similar to the parent organism whereas in genetic engineering, the new organism is not genetically identical to the parent organism. Cloning can be considered as a natural process as well since it occurs during the asexual reproduction.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Cloning
     – Definition, Molecular Cloning, Reproductive Cloning, Process
2. What is Genetic Engineering
     – Definition, Process, Role
3. What are the Similarities Between Cloning and Genetic Engineering
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Cloning and Genetic Engineering
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Asexual Reproduction, Cloning, Genetic Engineering, Genome, Molecular Cloning, Genetic Engineering, Reproductive Cloning

Difference Between Cloning and Genetic Engineering - Comparison Summary

What is Cloning

Cloning refers to the creation of similar populations of genetically identical individuals. Hence, the clone has the same genetic material as the parent. Cloning occurs naturally through asexual reproduction. Bacteria and plants, as well as some animal forms, undergo asexual reproduction, producing genetically similar offspring. Hence, the clone and the parent organism have exactly similar phenotypic characteristics. A clone of trees is shown in figure 1.

Difference Between Cloning and Genetic Engineering_Figure 1

Figure 1: Clone

The two types of cloning techniques used in biotechnology are molecular cloning and reproductive cloning.

Molecular Cloning

In molecular cloning, multiple copies of a particular gene can be produced as a clone. It is used in the study of a particular gene or the expression of the gene. First, the desired DNA fragment is inserted into a plasmid, and the plasmid can be transformed into bacteria along with the inserted fragment. The replication of the plasmid inside bacteria produces a large number of identical copies or clones of the plasmid with the insert. These clones can be either isolated from the bacterial cells or expressed inside the bacteria to obtain the gene product. Insulin-like proteins are produced through molecular cloning in a large scale. The formation of a recombinant plasmid is shown in figure 2.

Key Difference - Cloning vs Genetic Engineering

Figure 2: Recombinant Plasmid

Reproductive Cloning

Reproductive cloning is the method of creating an identical copy of an entire multicellular organism. Most higher organisms use sexual reproduction where the fusion of haploid gametes forms a new diploid individual. Here, the diploid genetic complement and the cytoplasm of the egg cell are the two requirements for the production of an embryo. This approach can be artificially-produced by removing the haploid nucleus of the egg cell and placing the diploid, somatic nucleus of a donor into the egg cell. The procedure of reproductive cloning is shown in figure 3.

Difference Between Cloning and Genetic Engineering_Figure 3

Figure 3: Reproductive Cloning

Then the egg cell is stimulated to divide, forming a new organism that consists of the same genetic information as the donor. Dolly was the first cloned agricultural animal who was born in 1996 and since then, goats, bulls as well as horses have been cloned.

What is Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering refers to the modification of DNA in order to produce new types of organisms by inserting or deleting genes. DNA modification can be achieved through the insertion of foreign DNA into a plasmid vector and transforming into the organism. The organism with modified DNA is known as genetically modified organism (GMO). If a particular organism receives genes from several species, it is called a transgenic organism. The creation of genetically-modified organisms is shown in figure 4.

Difference Between Cloning and Genetic Engineering

Figure 4: Genetic Engineering

Bacteria, plants as well as animals have been genetically-modified for academic, agricultural, medical or industrial purposes.

Similarities Between Cloning and Genetic Engineering

  • Cloning and genetic engineering are two techniques in biotechnology that produce beneficial organisms.
  • Both cloning and genetic engineering are vital in the production of hormones and other pharmaceutical products.
  • Ethics are involved in both cloning and genetic engineering.

Difference Between Cloning and Genetic Engineering

Definition

Cloning: Cloning refers to the creation of similar populations of genetically identical individuals.

Genetic Engineering: Genetic engineering refers to the modification of DNA in order to produce new types of organisms by inserting or deleting genes.

Natural/Artificial

Cloning: Cloning can occur naturally in asexual reproduction and artificially through molecular cloning and reproductive cloning.

Genetic Engineering: Genetic engineering is an artificial technique.

Genetic Material

Cloning: Cloning is the production of more copies that are genetically identical.

Genetic Engineering: Genetic engineering alters the genetic material of a particular organism.

Role

Cloning: Cloning is important for maintaining beneficial characteristics of a particular organism over generations.

Genetic Engineering: Genetic engineering is involved in the introduction of new, desired characteristics to a particular organism.

Conclusion

Cloning and genetic engineering are two techniques used in biotechnology to produce the desired organism. Cloning also occurs in nature through asexual reproduction. It is the production of the exact replica of a particular organism. Hence, the genetic information of the new organism is same as the parent. Genetic engineering is the introduction of a new gene into an organism, introducing a desired characteristic to that organism. Hence in genetic engineering, the genetic material of the organism is altered. Therefore, the main difference between cloning and genetic engineering is the change to the set of genetic information of a particular organism.

Reference:

1. Gair, Charles Molnar and Jane. “10.1 Cloning and Genetic Engineering” Concepts of Biology-1st Canadian Edition. Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Quakingfallcolors” By Beeblebrox at English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Recombinant formation of plasmids” By Minestrone Soup at English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
3. “Dolly clone” By Squidonius (talk) – Own work (Original text: self-made) (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
4. “Genetically Engineered Animals (23533118540)” By The U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Genetically Engineered Animals (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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