Genetics is the science of heredity and variation. Genomics is a discipline of genetics that encompasses gene mapping, gene sequencing and determining gene function. Genotyping is the application of genomic information to develop new traits and products.

In 1997, NCGA spearheaded the National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI), which sequenced the corn ge­nome and other plant genomes. The draft of the corn genome sequence was completed in 2008. The next phase of the project is to apply genomic knowledge to improve plant performance in the field. Scientists are using genotyping as an important tool to develop new products and traits.


Amino acids – a group of 20 naturally occurring molecules that are combined to make proteins
Biotechnology – the scientific and industrial use of living organisms
Carbohydrates – molecules that are made up of sugars
Cellulose – a fibrous, complex carbohydrate (sugar) that is the main ingredient in cell walls
Cytoplasm – the mixture of water, proteins, fats, sug­ars and salts found outside the nucleus of a cell
DNA – the four primary nucleotides (A, T, C, G) that with sugar are the primary components of the double helix
Intellectual property – all patent applications, patents or trade secrets that make up proprietary information
mRNA – a single stranded RNA molecule
Nucleus – a membrane bound compartment found in cells that contains most of the cell’s genetic information
Oligonucleotide – a short string of nucleotides
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) – a process that reproduces a specific stretch of DNA, going from very few copies to millions of DNA copies
Proteomics – the study of protein function and structure
RNA – ribonucleic acid


Allele – an alternate form of a gene
Base – a single nucleotide
Base pair – the bonded structure between two complementary nucleotides (A-T) or (C-G)
Chromosome – a complex DNA chain that contains genetic information
DNA base pair – the bonded structure between two complementary nucleotides (A-T) or (C-G) on different DNA strands
Dominant gene – a gene whose phenotype is ex­pressed when it is present in only one copy
Gene – the unit of inheritance consisting of a DNA sequence
Nucleic acids – DNA or RNA molecules composed of nucleotides
Nucleotides – the basic structure of DNA and RNA consisting of a nucleotide, phosphoric acid and a sugar
Phenotype – the observable characteristics of an individual
Polymorphism – differences between DNA sequences
Recessive gene – a gene whose phenotype only is expressed when it is present in two copies
Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) – a single base change in a DNA sequence, such as a change in the nucleotide sequence from GGCA to GGTA


Bioinformatics – use of computer programs for searching and analyzing electronic databases of DNA and protein sequences.
DNA chip – spots of DNA arranged on a glass or sili­con chip used for nucleic acid assays
DNA sequencing – determining the order of DNA bases
Functional genomics – determining the function of gene products
Genetic map – map giving relative distance and posi­tion of one gene with respect to other genes
Genetic polymorphism – differences between DNA sequences
Genome – the collection of all genes for an organism
Genomics – study of the genetic make-up of an organism, including DNA sequencing, mapping and determining function
Mutation – an alteration in DNA structure or sequence


Assay – a test for determining presence or absence, sequence, or composition of DNA, proteins or other cellular components
DNA marker – A DNA sequence that exists in two or more forms that can be used to genotype individuals
DNA profiling – The term used to describe different methods for the analysis of DNA to establish the genotype or identity of an individual
Genotype – the genetic composition of an individual
High-throughput screening – the use of robotics to run thousands of assays in a short time
Marker assisted breeding – plant breeding assisted by using DNA markers
Molecular breeding – plant breeding assisted by using DNA markers or protein markers


Agrobacterium – Agrobacterium tumefaciens, bacte­rial species used for plant transformation
Artificial chromosome – synthetic DNA used to insert a transgene(s) into a plant cell.  Artificial chromo­somes are not incorporated into the plant genome
Biolistics – The process of introducing DNA into plants cells by shooting DNA-coated pellets into the cell
Genetic engineering – altering the genetic structure of an organism by adding foreign genes or altering or removing native genes through technology
Plasmid – a heritable piece of DNA that is not part of a chromosome
Transformation – the change in the genetic structure of an organism by the incorporation of new DNA
Transgene – modified native gene or gene from an­other species that is inserted into plants
Transgenics – the alteration of plant DNA that con­tains a gene from another organism
Vector – a plasmid used for carrying cloned DNA


1. A Guide to the Biopharmaceutical Lexicon 2011 Edi­tion, Waters Corporation