Ira Flatow talks today on Science Friday with Craig Venter. Craig and his team of scientists have taken the genome of one bacteria and transplanted into another, thus changing it to another species.
Reported in today’s issue of Science (gotta pay for it), this research may be the first step in creating an artificial life form from scratch, which is just too amazing for words.
Of course creationists will have to have a huge conference on where they’ll move the goal posts now. If they were honest, they’d just stop giving all their money to the invisible psycho in the sky who’s never been observed creating a damned thing and send it all to Craig. I guess the key word in that sentence is “honest”.
More below the fold.
The researchers worked with Mycoplasma mycoides (a microbe that infects goats) because it has one of the smallest genetic blueprints of any known self-replicating organism and lacks cell walls, making it easier to insert new DNA. They isolated its entire genetic code—one chromosome that forms a circle—stripping it of all its proteins, and then added genes to make a host organism blue (to make it easy to pick out in a Petri dish) as well as resistant to the antibiotic tetracycline.
The scientists added close relative Mycoplasma capricolum (another goat pathogen) to a solution containing M. mycoides‘s genetic material and gently mixed it for a minute. After three hours of incubation, the resulting microbes were exposed to the antibiotic tetracycline. Only those cells that absorbed the M. mycoides genome survived.
After three days, large colonies of blue, antibiotic-resistant microbes had formed. Roughly one in 150,000 of the M. capricolum microbes had absorbed the new DNA and transferred it to daughter cells. The daughter cells displayed no trace of their original DNA while taking on the entire form and function of the original bacterium, says microbiologist Carole Lartigue of the Venter Institute, who led the research. “The result is a clean change of one bacterial species into another,” the researchers wrote in Science.