Categorized | Science

Creation of the First Artificial Life Form

Updated: Oct 18, 2010

A brand new living cell and the beginning of an era for artificial life forms! It’s official, J. Craig Venter and his team have created the first self-replicating synthetic cell with a completely man-made set of genetic instructions—a never before existing bacteria species has joined the ranks of the living.

Dr Craig Venter Announces First Synthetic Living Cell

*new* Step by Step: How scientists created the first artificial life




Step by Step:

How scientists created the first artificial life

1. Decode DNA from a bacterium (single-celled organism), in this case Mycoplasma mycoides

2. Synthetically create the DNA of the bacterium in the lab and add a “watermark” to distinguish it from real DNA

3. Transplant the artificial DNA into a living bacterium (in this case Mycoplasma capricolum) with its own authentic DNA

4. Allow the bacterium, which now contains artificial and authentic DNA, to divide and create “daughter” bacteria, some of which contain artifical DNA and others that contain authentic DNA

5. Add an antibiotic that kills the bacteria with authentic DNA, but not the bacteria with artificial DNA

6. Allow the artifical bacteria to produce proteins

RESULT: The artificial DNA produce proteins from the original bacterium, the Mycoplasma mycoides, qualifying as the world’s first artificial cell


Full Length Press Release: Craig Venter unveils “synthetic life”

The Journal Science Interviews J. Craig Venter About the first “Synthetic Cell”

Science PodCast with J. Craig Venter on the first “Synthetic Cell”

An interview with Craig Venter on the creation of a bacterial cell controlled by a chemically synthesized genome. Get Adobe Flash player

Interview on BBC – Are We Playing God?

Interview on AlJazeera – Frost over the World (29.05.2010)

ScienceMag – News of This Week [free full text PDF or read online]
Synthetic Genome Brings New Life to Bacterium
Nice overview on Craig Venter’s work on “synthetic life”

Original Science Journal Article [free full text PDF & supporting material]
Creation of a Bacterial Cell Controlled by a Chemically Synthesized Genome.

ABSTRACT: We report the design, synthesis, and assembly of the 1.08-Mbp Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 genome starting from digitized genome sequence information and its transplantation into a Mycoplasma capricolum recipient cell to create new Mycoplasma mycoides cells that are controlled only by the synthetic chromosome. The only DNA in the cells is the designed synthetic DNA sequence, including “watermark” sequences and other designed gene deletions and polymorphisms, and mutations acquired during the building process. The new cells have expected phenotypic properties and are capable of continuous self-replication.

Q&A on What Synthetic Life Actually Means [at ScienceMag News]
Science reporter Elizabeth Pennisi, who wrote a news story about the discovery, and Mark Bedau, a philosopher and scientist at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and editor of the scientific journal Artificial Life, offer their answers and opinions.

EDGE: Brief Summary & Thought by Edge Reality Club Members [read online]
Bringing woolly mammoths and Neanderthal to live. Some fun thought experiments and comments by Daniel C. Dennett and others

Programming Life out of 4 Letters by Richard Dawkins

Dolly was cloned from an entire diploid genome of an adult sheep’s udder cell, dropped into an enucleated ovum. The Venter equivalent of Ian Wilmut’s achievement would be to go to the library (or in this case the Internet), take down the book labelled ‘Sheep Genome Project’ (or rather download the data files), and synthesize a complete set of sheep chromosomes from four bottles of chemicals labelled A, T, C and G. The synthetic genome would then be dropped into an enucleated sheep cell, as per Dolly. [source: The Richard Dawkins Foundation]

J. Craig Venter Institute has an article with more details about this break through titled FIRST SELF-REPLICATING SYNTHETIC BACTERIAL CELL


Gibson, D. G., Glass, J. I., Lartigue, C., Noskov, V. N., Chuang, R. Y., Algire, M. A., et al. (2010). Creation of a bacterial cell controlled by a chemically synthesized genome. Science (New York, N.Y.). doi:10.1126/science.1190719 [free full text PDF]


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