Population of genetically identical cells or organisms that originated from a single cell or organism by nonsexual methods. Cloning is fundamental to most living things, since the body cells of plants and animals are clones that come ultimately from a single fertilized egg. More narrowly, the term refers to an individual organism grown from a single body cell of its parent that is genetically identical to the parent. Cloning has been commonplace in horticulture since ancient times; many varieties of plants are cloned simply by obtaining cuttings of their leaves, stems, or roots and replanting them. The body cells of adult humans and other animals are routinely cultured as clones in the laboratory. Entire frogs and mice have been successfully cloned from embryonic cells. British researchers led by Ian Wilmut achieved the first success in cloning an adult mammal in 1996. Having already produced clones from sheep embryos, they were able to produce a lamb (Dolly) using DNA from an adult sheep. The practical applications of cloning are economically promising but philosophically unsettling.
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