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Would I be able to genetically modify a plant at home? What equipment will be necessary? I think it might be a fun change from the 'norm' of regular hybridisation, to try some inter-family gene insertion, instead of staying within a genus. Are some plants easier to modify than others?

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You might also have to consider any regulations that might exist in your country. In some countries genetic modified organisms can only be handled in designated laboratories. – Mad Scientist Jul 23 '14 at 10:29
@MadScientist Do you know of any such regulations in Pennsylvania, United States? – J. Musser Jul 24 '14 at 2:08
The USA regulates the product of genetic engineering, not the process, so there are no federal regulations (some state/county laws may be different) to prohibit you. Most likely you cannot just release the plant into the wild though as it may require USDA approval (depending on the genes inserted and method of inserting them). – GlowingPlant Sep 17 '14 at 22:06
This q. is a follow-up to the the above problem....can't it be simply done by creating a hybrid??...I mean that too is a genetic mix-up & will show features diff. from the parents.. – souvik bhattacharya Nov 11 '14 at 18:19
@souvik But you cannot add genes from out of the genus this way, so not the same. I've hybridized plenty of plants in my time, including some quite nice roses. – J. Musser Nov 12 '14 at 4:48
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Well, that depends on your home. ;) I think it is not an easy process.

There are two main methods that are used to genetically modify plants:

Using the bacterium, Agrobacterium tumifaciens, as a vector for the DNA. Agrobacterium has the ability to infect plants and insert DNA into a plant's genome. It causes crown gall tumours in natural infections. This method has mainly been used to modify broad leaved plants, such as sugar beet and oilseed rape, but is now also being applied to monocot species, such as maize and rice

Particle bombardment or biolistics where the DNA to be inserted is coated on minute gold particles and fired into plants cells. This approach is used for monocot plants such as maize and rice

Here I found simple step by step article, but lil bit old. may be there are new methods for this process. How To Genetically Modify a Seed, Step By Step

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What equipment might I need? – J. Musser Jul 23 '14 at 4:29
With agrobacterium, a usual practice is to dip the flowers in the bacterial suspension (Floral dip). You would need the bacteria, culture media and your gene inserted in the agrobacterium Ti-plasmid. – WYSIWYG Jul 23 '14 at 5:14
Meh add elctroporation or suffer the pains of a -1 ;p – user1357 Jul 23 '14 at 18:02

Yes it is. The easiest plant to transform would be Arabidopsis, which can be transformed by agrobacterium using the floral dip method. The process would be as follows: 1. Design a gene sequence you wish to insert into the plant 2. Synthesize (or otherwise acquire the DNA) 3. Insert the DNA into your agrobacterium, at home you would use a cold snap transformation process described here: This can be done at home using a dry ice bath. 4. Then use the floral dip method to insert the dna into the plant. This involves growing a plant to just the right age when it is flowering and dipping the Arabidopsis flowers into a solution of the agrobacterium. 5. Then grow the flowers to seed and grow the seeds on a suitable select able marker (which you designed into your DNA plasmid).

The specific experimental conditions needed to do all this are too long for this answer, but you can look them up online as all the procedures are standard.

Plants which result from this process would not be legal to release into the wild due to USDA regulations.

Engineering other plants, depending on the species, can be more complex but could possibly also done at home. There are even designs online for an open source gene gun if you didn't want to use agrobacterium.

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genetic modification can be done with mutations. A mutation is a permanent change in the sequence of DNA. In order to obtain an observable effect, mutations must occur in gene exons, or regulatory elements. Changes in the non-coding regions of DNA (introns and junk DNA) generally do not affect function.

Mutations can be caused by:

  • external (exogenous) factors, such as chemicals and radiation


  • endogenous (native) factors

Mutations can be advantageous and lead to an evolutionary advantage of a certain genotype..this will be a solution for your plant modification..

A mutagen is a physical or chemical agent that changes the genetic material, usually DNA, of an organism and thus increases the frequency of mutations above the natural background level.

chemical mutagens:

  • Bromine
  • Sodium azide
  • Psoralen
  • Benzene

long term treatment plant with mutagens caused mutations some might be advantage then select advantage .. As many mutations cause cancer, mutagens are therefore also likely to be carcinogens!

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Yes, It is.

An Indian Company IndieBB can help you get one. IndieBB: a DNA system designed to help you and your friends to explore genetic engineering and synthetic biology by making fluorescent bacteria at home.

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That's pretty cool! How about plants? – J. Musser Jul 23 '14 at 4:28
I haven't watched the youtube video completely, but I think they are pretty good. – Devashish Das Jul 23 '14 at 5:08
Do you mind expanding to the other points I asked about? – J. Musser Jul 23 '14 at 5:09
How fresh do the hair follicles have to be? – J. Musser Jul 24 '14 at 2:06
@J.Musser: I haven't tried it myself. but I think it had to be fresh. PS; I don't know how you will get it with follicles?? – Devashish Das Jul 24 '14 at 5:04

Not to forget that simple cross breeding your plants the Mendelian way also modifies their genetic make up, as @souvik bhattacharya indicates in his comment. No equipment necessary, no chemicals, no ethical issues.

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But you cannot add genes from out of the genus this way, so not the same. I've hybridized plenty of plants in my time, including some quite nice roses. – J. Musser Nov 12 '14 at 4:47
@J.Musser: you're right, but across-species gene insertion is not mentioned in the question anywhere - I'm just answering the question – Christiaan Nov 12 '14 at 5:08
My bad, I edited my question to clarify. – J. Musser Nov 12 '14 at 16:39

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