JCVI president and founder J. Craig Venter stated upon this discovery, "This extraordinary accomplishment is a technological marvel that was only made possible because of the unique and accomplished JCVI team. Ham Smith, Clyde Hutchison, Dan Gibson, Gwyn Benders, and the others on this team dedicated the last several years to designing and perfecting new methods and techniques that we believe will become widely used to advance the field of synthetic genomics." [MedicalNewsToday: “Is This The Beginnings Of Artificial Life?”]
A genome is the set of chromosomes an organism inherits from its parents that contains all of the genetic information for that organism.
M. genitalium is a very small parasitic bacterium that resides in the genital and respiratory tracts of primates. It is the smallest known free-living bacterium and the one with the smallest genome (except for viruses).
Scientists call this event a very important advance in genetic manipulation. It is the second step of a three part process that is being worked on by geneticists. The first step was completed in 2007 when the genome from one species of bacteria was transplanted into another one.
The third step involves taking the chemically synthesized deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which is outside of the organism, and placing it inside a bacterium so that it can produce a synthetic cell.
The seventeen-member Venter team, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, successfully performed both of these first steps, and are working their way to the completion of the third step. Completion of the third step would mean that scientists would have created the first synthetic life-form.
Scientists following the Venter experiments state that the synthesizing of an entire genome is very difficult. The process, which has taken them five years to complete, involves bringing together base pairs of the four building blocks of DNA: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T).
Controversy surrounds the Venter team and its scientists' research and development work. Please read on.