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Posted October 7th 2007 5:28PM

Craig Venter, a DNA researcher who contributed to the deciphering of the human genome, has been hard at work in his lab creating a synthetic chromosome out of 580,000 base pairs of genetic code.

"The DNA sequence is based on the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium which the team pared down to the bare essentials needed to support life, removing a fifth of its genetic make-up. The wholly synthetically reconstructed chromosome, which the team have christened Mycoplasma laboratorium, has been watermarked with inks for easy recognition."

The new "life form" is reliant on the host cell for replication and metabolism so it's not exactly entirely synthetic, but as the DNA is different, it is effectively an artificial form of life. This achievement will likely spawn plenty of moral and philosophical debate while the technology itself could be used to engineer new energy sources, treat haserdous chemicals or even fight global warming.

Source - The Guardian

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