Craig Venter is a brilliant scientist who has been working tirelessly to create life in the lab. In recent years he has been really pushing that the event is getting close. It looks like he has made a huge technical step.
Craig Venter has taken yet another step towards his goal of creating synthetic life forms. He’s synthesized the genome of a microbe and then implanted that piece of DNA into a DNA-free cell of another species. And that…that thing…can grow and divide.
Anyone who has worked with DNA for more than 30 seconds can appreciate at least some of the difficulty entailed in such a feat. Most DNA falls apart after a few thousand base pairs using modern molecular techniques of replication. Even with PCR and the use of a high-grade enzyme like Taq, no one sets out to copy something too terribly long. (And depending on what the DNA is needed for, it may only be necessary to replicate a few hundred base pairs – a fairly common event.) So Venter and his team used bacteria and yeast as major components in their synthesis instead. What they created is more or less a copy of a genome of an organism that already exists, but the important aspect here is the transfer of the synthesis into the cell. That’s the major technical feat that’s going to act as the next step in Venter’s quest to create artificial life.