Clone a Plant
What You Need to Know
Cloning is the process of making an identical copy of an organism (a living thing). Vegetative reproduction is the cloning of a plant. DNA is the material inside the nucleus of every cell that contains the blueprint for all the characteristics of the organism.
How Does Cloning Work?
Every cell in your body contains DNA with the blueprint for your entire physical make up. For example, a heart cell contains DNA with all the information for eye color, hair color, height, whether you are a boy or girl, and so on. But during development, the DNA that develops into heart cells has the thousands of characteristics coded on it "silenced" except for heart characteristics. Nose cells have DNA with all characteristics silenced except for nose characteristics, and so on. In the process of cloning, scientists have found a way to give all the characteristics on the DNA in a single cell an active voice. This means that a new creature can develop from this single cell.
What Does This Have to Do with Cloning Plants?
In vegetative reproduction, the plant does not develop from a seed. Instead it develops from another part of the plant, such as the roots, the stems, or the leaves of a parent plant. The new plant is identical to the parent plant, so it is a clone. One method of using vegetative reproduction to grow new plants is the use of cuttings, also called slips. A cutting or slip is a piece of a stem or leaf that is capable of growing into a new plant. Cuttings grow into a new plant if a special type of root can grow at the end of the cutting. These roots are called adventitious roots. Some plants can be easily cloned from cuttings, while others can't.
Is cloning a process that humans discovered? No. An example of natural cloning, or vegetative reproduction, is the strawberry plant. This plant grows runners (stems that grow across the surface of the ground). These runners develop roots, which grow into the ground, and new plants develop.
Real-Life Science Challenge
In 1952, the first animal, a tadpole, was cloned. The first mammal (any of a class of animals with backbones and that nurse their young), a sheep named Dolly, was cloned in 1997. Since Dolly's birth, other animals have been cloned.
Now, start experimenting with vegetative reproduction.
- Research to find out which types of plants are easiest to clone.
- Think about what all plants need to grow.
- Take several cuttings from one kind of plant.
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