29 Jun 2007

Science hype it up

"First genome transplant turns one species into another".

Wow! Really? That sounds amazing!!

"Scientists have converted an organism into an entirely different species by performing the world's first genome transplant, a breakthrough that paves the way for the creation of synthetic forms of life".

No kidding! "An entirely different species"?! What was it, turning a whale into a petunia!?!

And it's a paper in Science!?

This must be big!!!!!

Wait for it....

Here it is..........

"In the experiment, researchers extracted the whole genetic code from a simple bacterium, Mycoplasma mycoides. They squirted the DNA into a test tube containing a related species, Mycoplasma capricolum. They found that some of the bacteria absorbed the new genome and ditched their own. These microbes grew and behaved exactly like the donor".


Can I piss on their fire now?

These mycoplasma are very closely related:
"The members of the M. mycoides cluster are very closely related, as judged from biochemical, physiological, serological, and 16S rRNA sequence data, but cause different diseases in various animals. M. capricolum subsp. capripneumoniae has a property unique among members of the M. mycoides cluster in that it has an unusually large number of polymorphisms in the two 16S rRNA genes. There are, in fact, more sequence differences between the rrnA and rrnB operons of M. capricolum subsp. capripneumoniae than between the 16S rRNA genes of homologous operons of different species within the M. mycoides cluster. This characteristic can possibly be explained by more rapid evolution due to a relatively recent change to a host to which this mycoplasma has not completely adapted".
Note: "relatively recent change". And M. capricolum is more diverse than M. mycoides, so you might expect these cells to be able to take up M. mycoides genomes. They're practically the same species. Bacteria are quite fuzzy about species anyway.

It is an interesting experiment, but this has been hyped up beyond a joke.

1 comment:

Pedro Beltrão said...

I agree that it is too hyped up. Venter's work as tendency to propagate well. Still, it is a very interesting experiment. It does facilitate the engineering of Mycoplasma cells. They should be able now to order oligos, stitch the genome together and boot up a new Mycoplasma cell. There are probably several limitations regarding proper cell-division elements in the genome that might not be too obvious and they might hit a lot of "bugs" along the way.
The hype also has the positive side effect of attracting more non-scientists to science. Like Barabasi's overly hyped power laws had the positive effect of getting a lot more people from physics into biology.