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Longest Piece of Synthetic DNA Yet

January 25, 2008

The research team, led by Nobel laureate Hamilton Smith, ordered short strands of genetic code from commercial DNA synthesis companies in the U.S. and Germany and stitched them into longer and longer strands using standard molecular biology techniques. To assemble the largest pieces of DNA, they inserted them into yeast cells and exploited a natural process called “homologous recombination,” which is used by yeast to repair damaged DNA. The experiment’s final product is equivalent to the naturally occurring genetic code of M. genitalium, with two minor exceptions: The scientists disabled the gene that gave the bug power to infect human cells, and they added a few “watermarks,” short strips of signature genetic code that identify the product as man-made.

Source: Scientific American.

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