Friday, November 14, 2003


Bug-nology update: In April I noted that work was being done by IBEA on creating a completely man-made organism.

The first step has been achieved. IBEA has reconstructed a known gene sequence for a virus from much shorter, commercially available segments. This was done in two weeks, and sequencing of the product showed that the reconstructed version was accurate (which is what makes this different from previous efforts with the polio virus).

Now they know how to do it, but the really tough problem remains. They know how to build a working library, but they still can't read most of the books that are available to put there.

The metaphor that IBEA uses is the "cassette." By determining what the minimum necessary genetic infrastructure is to sustain life, they can make a cassette that can be used to hold tapes with different songs. These songs would contain the task-specific instructions ("eat carbon" or "make methane"). The songs are the genes encoding desired metabolic pathways found in other existing organisms.

We still have to learn what most genes actually do, before we could fully engineer an organism that will actually carry out a desired task, like scrub emissions, clean up spills, produce fuels, sequester carbon, etc.

But we are well on that road.

Fast forward: "Nov. 14, 2023. Nokiocera announced today that it had released a new generation of PCA (polymerase cycle assembly) synthesizers that are completely compatible with the widely-used online genLib databases and NFP-2v11 nanofabrication protocols..."