Plant Biotechnology: The Genetic Manipulation of Plants
Publication Type
Original research
  • Hani Al-Ahmad

Plant biotechnology and genetic engineering are rapid growing branches in the plant sciences. Our knowledge of plant biology is accelerating as new molecular and genomic tools that enable the discovery of novel regulatory and structural genes that control or influence important agronomic traits are created. Compared to conventional breeding approaches, modern plant biotechnologies offer numerous significant benefits such as the production of a range of improved genetically modified (GM) crop varieties that could bring benefits to both the developed and developing world.  The book under review is an update of a previous edition that was published in 2003. It is an interesting and timely volume that will appeal to a wide variety of biological readers who are interested in theoretical and applied plant biotechnology, recombinant DNA technologies, and plant molecular genetics, including plant genetic manipulation and transformation. It is informative, and a textbook of appropriate price and choice to which serious undergraduate and postgraduate students, and researchers of the subject could turn for learning and understanding.  The present edition comprises 13 chapters. The first four chapters provide a comprehensive introduction to plant genomes, principles of micropropagation by plant cell and tissue cultures required to regenerate transgenic plants, and technical aspects of plant transformation and genetic manipulation. The latter subject is further discussed in subsequent chapters that highlight the biotechnological strategies used in case studies of important GM crops transformed with desirable agronomic traits. Four chapters dealt in depth with the so-called first generation of plant biotechnology, including herbicide tolerance as the predominant GM trait (Chapter 5), and resistance to pests with focus on using the bacterial Bt gene in corn and cotton (Chapter 6) and to viral diseases (Chapters 7 and 8) that reduce reliance on chemical sprays. The next two chapters focus on up-to-date achievements in tolerance to diverse range of abiotic stresses (Chapter 9), and traits to improve the productivity and yield quality of engineered crops (Chapter 10). The following chapter discusses the concepts and the potential of molecular farming and its contribution to large-scale production of new and selective industrial and pharmaceutical plant-based bioproducts, including carbohydrates, oils, and proteins such as enzymes, antibodies, and vaccines. Challenges that face the GM technologies as public concerns about GM food safety, ethical issues, and regulation of GM crops and products, in addition to some related future prospects, are all addressed in the final two chapters.  The book is clearly written with two-color text design and valuable marginal key points. The chapters are well illustrated with tables, case studies, and descriptive boxes of advanced concepts. The occasional figures are simply drawn but still informative. The chapters conclude with a “further reading” list of Web links and references that are categorized according to the discussed subject in its corresponding chapter. The suggested references are also hyperlinked to connect directly to online abstracts of published journal articles. In short, this great volume is very scientific, quite simply a joy to read, and is worth having.

The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 86, No. 1 (March 2011), pp. 57-58
Publisher Country
Publication Type
Both (Printed and Online)