Scientists have micromanaged the complete construction of a cell with the minimal genetic materials necessary for life.
A minimal cell has been created in the lab by genetic engineers. It contains at its nucleic core, exactly 473 genes which are a necessity for life to continue to flourish in its protoplasm.
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The original research dates back to 2010. Way back then, the scientists created and jump started the first bacterial cell which was not only synthetic but could make copies of itself.
Thus it became common knowledge that genomes could be synthesized in the lab and furthermore their designing could be accomplished via a computer.
These genomes could in fact be transplanted into the context of another cell which then results in the other cell beginning to function as the transferred genetic code instructs it to.
After this experiment the team of researchers began another bold venture. This new goal had been their objective since the mid 90s.
It was to create a minimal cell with only the necessary amount of genes that will go on to allow it to live for a specific period of time. Via this scheme, scientists could collect information about every gene found in a cell.
In order to achieve this goal, a bacteria known as Mycoplasma was made the focus of research. This special bacteria possesses the smallest set of genes of any species.
In 2010, these researchers had synthesized the genome of Mycoplasma mycoides. Based on the current state of knowledge and the cultural base, scientists designed minimal genomes in eight varied segments.
All eight of these could be put to the test to see which genes worked and which did not. Also quasi-essential genes were observed and manipulated in the process.
These quasi-essential genes are needed for health but not essential for life. Transposons or foreign genetic sequences were fitted into the structures of various genes.
This was to see how these genes disturbed the functioning of the cells. Those genes which were necessary for the overall functioning of the bacteria were thus identified with accuracy.
Thus a sifting process began which ended when the least number of genes were left behind. These were the minimal number necessary for normal functioning.
Some of the so-called non-essential genes did serve a function as it was discovered much to the surprise of the scientists. The final version had all in all 473 genes. This will serve as a prototypical model for further exploration into the central features of life and other living entities.