What Markers Are Not
Another tool of biotechnology is the use of DNA markers to help create a new crop variety. A very common misconception is thinking that DNA markers physically put a transgene exactly where the scientist wants it in a crop's chromosome (Genetic Engineering Step #4).
At the moment, it is a completely random chance where a gene gun or Agrobacterium will insert a transgene into a plant's chromosome. There is some work being done with something called Zinc Fingers, which is showing potential for allowing a specific insertion, but for now, it is not being used routinely with plants.
What DNA Markers Are
DNA markers are a set of tools playing a role in one of 3 ways:
- Providing a tool in plant breeding (known as Marker Assisted Selection)
- Identifying successful GMO events
- Distinguishing varieties
Try This Animation
Work through this animation to see more how DNA markers are used in the plant breeding process. Clicking this image will open a new window which you can make larger by clicking on and dragging the lower right-hand corner. You will not lose your place on this website page to watch the animation.