A group of Scientists have developed the first cell controlled by a synthetic genome. This is an extraordinary discovery that opens up the hope of using this method to better understand the basic mechanisms that drive all life.
The research team had already chemically synthesized a bacterial genome, and had transplanted the genome from one bacterium to another. Now, Daniel Gibson and his colleagues have put together both methods to create what they call a “synthetic cell”, whose genome is synthetic.
In this case, the synthetic genome was a copy of an existing genome, albeit with added DNA sequences that put a *”watermark”* in the genome to differentiate it from a natural one.
In the future, scientists expect to design more innovative genomes that will allow bacteria to perform specific tasks that could solve energy, environmental or other problems.
The team first synthesized the genome of Mycoplasma mycoides, and then transplanted them into Mycoplasma capricolum. The new genome *”loaded”* the receptor cells. Although fourteen genes were erased or altered in the transplanted bacteria, these bacteria appeared to be normal M. mycoides and produced only M. mycoide proteins, noted the authors. *”If the methods described here can be generalized, the design, synthesis, assembly and transplantation of synthetic chromosomes will no longer be a barrier to the progress of synthetic biology,”* they wrote.