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Tuesday, November 26, 2002

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find related articles. powered by google. The Scientist Minimal controversy
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"Craig Venter's "minimal genome" project announced Wednesday is not about creating a new life form and probably doesn't pose much of a biowarfare threat, researchers say. The high-profile project was just funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) with $3 million going to the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA), one of the non-profit research institutes Venter founded after leaving the newly profit-minded Celera Genomics early this year.

According to some scientists, the new project won't even define the minimal genomethe basic gene set required for lifebecause there can be no single minimal genome."

find related articles. powered by google. Astrobiology Magazine Life from Scratch?

"Several years ago, Venter first looked at this mycoplasma as the best such model, because the organism is a record-holder of sorts: the self-replicating life form with the smallest known complement of genetic material. Unlike the human genome with its 30,000 to 50,000 genes, M. genitalium gets by with only 517. But remarkably, nearly half of even that minimal set is extra baggage. Under some laboratory conditions, as few as 300 of the genes can fulfill its definition as a lifeform that feeds and divides.

As it turns out, what is the definition of life itself? and also exactly what is its minimal genetic set? have been hotly contested. Gene size is one of the main limits to what could be the final and minimal cell size, and thus may set a limit on possible targets for creating life from scratch.

But what structures are too small or too simple to be considered "life"?"

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Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.


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