The appearance and chemical composition of all life are determined by the action of genes functioning in the context of the conditions surrounding the organism. While both genes and environment are important in determining the characteristics of plants, it is becoming clearer that genes control many more characteristics, and to a higher degree, than we had previously imagined. Hence, the study of genes and their effects on organisms, genetics, has allowed us to combat a wide range of human diseases. The burgeoning plant biotechnology industry, which promises to produce revolutionary plants and plant products in the twenty-first century, has also arisen. An intriguing tenet of modern genetics is that the cellular molecules that carry the genetic information (deoxyribonucleic acid [DNA]) and transmit this data to cells (ribonucleic acid [RNA] and proteins) are the same in plants and animals, so that geneticists speak one universal language that can be interpreted and manipulated, through science, to beneficially alter any species.
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