Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Intelligently Designed Yeast

Students Build the First Eukaryotic Chromosome from Scratch - Scientific American

Interesting news recently in Scientific American. Students at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, have created an entirely synthetic chromosome and it works just fine, just like any other chromosome in fact, and why wouldn't it? Chromosomes are just chemicals after all. There is no magic involved.

The chromosome they were attempting to create was Chromosome 3 of the yeast used in wine-making and baking - Saccharomyces cerevisiae - which controls the yeast sexual reproduction and which contains 316,617 base pairs. However, rather than build the entire DNA chain, they synthesised only the active regions, ignoring the accumulated junk DNA from billions of years of evolution. In fact, all they needed to do was create the correct sequence of 272,871 base pairs. Still a massive task but not nearly so daunting as it might have been.

This is a pretty impressive demonstration of not just DNA synthesis, but redesign of an entire eukaryotic chromosome. You can see that they are systematically paving the way for a new era of biology based on the redesign of genomes.

Farren Isaacs, bioengineer,
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
The interesting thing is that the yeast with the synthetic DNA is thriving and behaving just like regular yeast. The plan now is to breed it through thousands of generations to see how the synthetic DNA evolves and how much junk DNA is produced in the process. The long-term plan is to build an entirely synthetic genome for yeast which can then be manipulated to produce proteins, medicines, biofuels, etc.

From the point of view of this blog, the significant thing is not so much that the DNA was built but that, when real intelligent designers got to work, the best approach was to get rid of all the useless stuff that an unintelligent design process has created over billions of years, resulting in a design which was more efficient in terms of resources and no less efficient in terms of function. Of course, this would have been completely unnecessary had there been any intelligence involved in the original design.

Sorry, creationists, but your pet superstition has been exposed as bogus yet again. There really is no such thing as magic.

Reference:
Narayana Annaluru, et al; Total Synthesis of a Functional Designer Eukaryotic Chromosome
Science 4 April 2014: Vol. 344 no. 6179 pp. 55-58 DOI: 10.1126/science.1249252

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1 comment :

  1. Yes, Rosa! God no longer has exclusive rights to create life. To tell the truth, scientists not even have to use our Almighty God's own recipe for life. Look at and read this article: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/30/12005 . The headline is: Efficient and sequence-independent replication of DNA containing a third base pair establishes a functional six-letter genetic alphabet.

    To create the DNA double helix scientists, and Almighty God Himself, normally use the natural four-letter genetic alphabet with the four letters A, T, G and C. With these four letters you form two base pairs (A plus T and/or G plus C). But now scientists have demonstrated that God's own recipe for creating life is not the only one available to use. That is: God has no longer any exclusive patent for how to create life. Scientists in the United States of America have expanded the genetic alphabet with two more letters, thereby being able to use a third base pair.

    So what will happen now? Is God - or the many creationists in the U.S. - going to appeal against this new recipe for life in order to defend the divine way of creating life? Future will tell. Only God knows.

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