- Agronomic trait - A characteristic in a plant or animal that will add economic value to agricultural production. For example, increasing the protein content in dairy cow milk means the milk would be worth more to the farmer.
- Bacteria - Single celled organisms capable of reproduction and growth. Bacteria can be beneficial or harmful.
- Biotechnology - A broad term for a group of technologies based on the application of biological processes. It is used to make or modify foodstuffs, medicines, reduce wastes and environmental impacts and create renewable energy sources. Modern biotechnology is the term used to describe a range of processes and techniques especially at the molecular level. Examples of biotechnology applications include cell culture, genomics, molecular marker-assisted breeding, cloning, bioprocessing and diagnostic testing as well as gene technology (genetic modification).
- Modern biotechnology - Term used to describe a range of processes and techniques, focusing on the genetic level, such as molecular marking, genetic modification and genomics.
- Chromosome - One of the threadlike 'packages' of genes and other DNA in the nucleus of a cell. Different kinds of organisms have different numbers of chromosomes. Humans have 23 pairs in all: 44 autosomes and two sex chromosomes. Each parent contributes one to each pair, so children get half of their chromosomes from their mother and half from their father.
- Clone - A group of genetically identical organisms. Cloning occurs naturally in some instances, for example when a new plant is formed from a cutting or when humans produce identical twins. Usually however, no two organisms are identical, even if they belong to the same species. Genes, cells or entire organisms can be cloned using modern biotechnology methods.Cloning is not genetic modification as genes are not modified but copied exactly.
- DNA - (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is the chemical of which genes are made. It is found in the nucleus of the cells of most living things. The chemicals in DNA are the same for every living organism, however the ordering or sequence of the chemicals varies and it is this variation that determines a plant's, animal's or an organism's physical make-up and the way it functions.
- Gene - A portion of DNA that has a message encoded in its chemical structure. Genes are the inherited genetic instructions that give organisms their characteristics. By changing the sequence of genes, turning off certain genes or inserting new genes changes can be made to an organism.
- Genetic engineering - See genetic modification.
- Genetic enhancement - See genetic modification.
- Gene splicing - See genetic modification.
- Genetic modification - ('gene technology', 'genetic engineering', 'genetic modification/manipulation', 'genetic enhancement', 'gene splicing', 'transgenics' ) A technology used to alter the genetic material of living cells in order to make them capable of producing new substances (e.g. an insect toxin) or functioning differently (e.g. tolerance to saline soil).
- Genetics - The study of heredity and variations in living organisms. Genetics or molecular genetics may also be used to describe the study of genes and their function at a molecular level.
- Genome - The total set of genes in an organism or species. The human genome consists of about 3 billion DNA bases coding for about 30 000 genes, packaged in 23 pairs of chromosomes.
- Genomics - The large-scale discovery of genes. It involves study of the total hereditary material of a cell in an animal or plant, including gene placement along a strand of DNA and function of a particular gene or set of genes.
- Marker gene - A gene, whose presence in easily detectable, which is inserted into a GMO along with the desired gene.
- Micro-organism - A microscopic living thing, such as all bacteria and viruses, many types of fungi and other single-celled lifeforms.
- Molecular markers - Easily identified pieces of DNA that are located near genes of interest. Molecular markers are particularly useful in breeding programs because the DNA marker can be screened for instead of waiting for the gene to be expressed and/or the desirable trait to become apparent in a plant or animal.
- Organism - Any living thing.
- Proteomics/proteome - All the protein produced by an organism's genes are referred to as the 'proteome'. Proteomics is the study of these proteins and how they interact to affect the life of the organism. Gene activity can be studied by looking for the range of proteins which are produced by a particular gene, genome or cell.
- Physiological trait - A characteristic in a plant or animal that determines the way the organism functions. For example, the ability of a plant to conserve water will determine whether it is drought tolerant.
- Transformation system - A method of delivering new genes or DNA to the plant or organism of interest, thereby transforming its genetic structure.
- Transgenic - Refers to an organism containing one or more deliberately inserted genes from another species. Examples are bacteria containing the gene for human insulin and plants that contain the gene for a naturally occurring insecticide.