thinking about the world differently . . .
March 29th, 2016

Here is a mindbender

J. Craig Venter - Wikipedia

J. Craig Venter – Wikipedia

Craig Venter is a genomics pioneer and an incredibly gifted and creative geneticist, biochemist, biotechnologist and a few other nearly unpronounceable professions. A new research article published in Science [link here and another, possibly easier to understand, here] on March 25, 2016 details work done to create what can be called the smallest possible living genome. Yes, this is on the serrated edge of “creating life” in the lab.

The team used a tiny microbe with a very simple genome consisting of several hundred genes, and then essentially carved out gene after gene to create the smallest viable organism. “Viable” is a big word since none of the organisms can survive outside a petri dish because the Venter team simply made up for deficiencies that were not essential by adding the needed parts in the lab. So if gene x is needed to create a food form, that food was added to the dish, and the gene came out of the “engineered” organism’s genome.

Syn 3.0

Ultimately, the final form they dubbed “Syn 3.0” had 473 genes. It was “viable” based on the definition explained above. Much to the surprise of the team, they had to add various genes just to accomplish that minimum viability test.

149 genes were added. So what is the surprise? The team hasn’t a clue what the function of these genes is!

Hmmm… Life is much more complicated and mysterious than we ever assumed! The plot thickens…

See here for another article in Extreme Tech that is slightly more accessible to non-science readers…

Seems as though the saying “Enjoy Life” takes on different meaning than we ever intended…


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