Friday, May 21, 2010
Things That Make You Go Hmmm....
The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell.
The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA.
...But the researchers hope eventually to design bacterial cells that will produce medicines and fuels and even absorb greenhouse gases.
The team was led by Dr Craig Venter of the J Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Maryland and California.
He and his colleagues had previously made a synthetic bacterial genome, and transplanted the genome of one bacterium into another.
...Dr Helen Wallace from Genewatch UK, an organisation that monitors developments in genetic technologies, told BBC News that synthetic bacteria could be dangerous.
"If you release new organisms into the environment, you can do more harm than good," she said.
"By releasing them into areas of pollution, [with the aim of cleaning it up], you're actually releasing a new kind of pollution.
"We don't know how these organisms will behave in the environment."