Scientists create living organism

This story is a few days old now, but I think it’s important.

The FT reports that “Scientists have turned inanimate chemicals into a living organism”, building genes from four bottles of chemicals, and then inserting them into a bacterium which they had removed the original genes from.

That single bacterium was then allowed to divide and re-divide 30 times, creating billions of synthetic bacteria all apparently identical in their behaviour to the bacterium ‘M mycoides‘ which they had been designed to copy, but all carrying a genetic ‘watermark’ that showed they were man-made.

This opens up the possibility to create forms of life that have never, and will never, evolve.

The article says it could also be used to create a form of algae that would take carbon dioxide out of the air to make fuel.

If they can do that on a large enough scale then the long term outlook is for more energy than we can use. But can they do it in the time available?

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