21 May 2010

Synthetic Life? Maybe Not.

Lots in the news today about the creation of wholly artificial life. However, there is some dispute as to what exactly has taken place.

Discover: Did Craig Venter Just Create Synthetic Life? The Jury Is Decidedly Out

But the reactions to Venter’s accomplishment have been mixed–while some celebratory headlines trumpeted the creation of artificial life, many scientists said the reaction was overblown, and took issue with Venter’s claim of having created a truly synthetic cell.

[M]any experts note that the experimenters got a big boost by placing the synthetic genome in a preexisting cell, which was naturally inclined to make sense of the transplanted DNA and to turn genes on and off. Thus, they say, it’s not accurate to label the experiment’s product a true “synthetic cell.”

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