3.30.2009

New Artificial DNA Points to Alien Life

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http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/090214-weird-life.html
By Robin Lloyd,
LiveScience Senior Editor

CHICAGO — A strange, new genetic code a lot like that found in all terrestrial life is sitting in a beaker full of oily water in a laboratory in Florida, a scientist said today, calling it the first example of an artificial chemical system that is capable of Darwinian evolution.

The system is made of the four molecules that are the basic building blocks of our DNA along with eight synthetic modifications of them, said biochemist Steven A. Benner of the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville.

The main difference between the synthetic molecules and those that make up conventional DNA is that Benner's molecules cannot make copies of themselves, although that is just "a couple of years" away, he said.

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