Synthetic life: the revolution begins

By Clive Cookson, from Financial Times

Scientists could move from reading to writing genes as research to make microbes distinct from anything in nature is well underway
Craig Venter

Craig Venter, king of the genome, has been uncharacteristically quiet for a couple of years since his laboratory created the world’s first synthetic life form, a microbe whose genes were made entirely from inanimate chemicals. But he returned to the scientific limelight this month on a visit to Dublin for the Euroscience Open Forum, during which he gave two public lectures – and updated the FT on plans for “a revolution in synthetic life that is just beginning”.

Some critics downplayed Venter’s achievement in 2010 because he did not make a novel form of life. The project was a technical tour de force, a demonstration that scientists could move on from reading to writing genes, but it reproduced an existing microbe called Mycoplasma mycoides, with just a few “watermarking” additions to distinguish its DNA from the natural bacterium.

 To read more, go to Financial Times.