Oh my God, we’re all going to die, exclaimed the Daily Mail today.
Well, we are all going to die some day, but not because of the paper from the J. Craig Venter Institute, published in Science.
I’m having a little trouble understanding the fuss. Admittedly it’s a quite stunning technical achievement, but it doesn’t really tell us anything, does it? It’s simply a brute-force approach to turning one single-celled organism into a different one, isn’t it? Like nuclear transfer, refined to its bare essentials. A technical tour-de-force, and a stunning example of what we can do when we try, and it’s probably ironed out a lot of problems for the rest of us, but it’s more a triumph of marketing than anything else (a bit like the human genome first draft, perhaps?).
It’s not even as if the method is particularly applicable or transferable–dozens of researchers, ten years and 40 million nicker, for, as @Tideliar put it,
just the worlds biggest BAC. Please get a grip.
I will be impressed when, starting only with abiotic chemicals, Venter produces flowers from a genetically-modified top hat. Or am I missing something, and I should expect to see the army of radioactive gorillas marching down up Tottenham Court Road next Tuesday?
Gibson, D., Glass, J., Lartigue, C., Noskov, V., Chuang, R., Algire, M., Benders, G., Montague, M., Ma, L., Moodie, M., Merryman, C., Vashee, S., Krishnakumar, R., Assad-Garcia, N., Andrews-Pfannkoch, C., Denisova, E., Young, L., Qi, Z., Segall-Shapiro, T., Calvey, C., Parmar, P., Hutchison, C., Smith, H., & Venter, J. (2010). Creation of a Bacterial Cell Controlled by a Chemically Synthesized Genome Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1190719