gy still remains to be proven, but now we are much closer to knowing it's absolutely theoretically possible."
In this experiment, the scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, used naturally-occurring DNA from a living organism, but they believe the transplantation techniques could be used on artificial, or man-made genomes, once they are developed.
To that end, they are seeking patents on the methods they used in this study.
The researchers took the genome of a simple, one-celled organism called Mycoplasma mycoides and transplanted it into a close relative, M. capricolum.
Both of these bacteria, which are innocuous goat pathogens, lack an outer membrane, facilitating genome transfer.
Before transplantation, the researchers modified the DNA of the donor bacteria, adding two genes that would provide proof if the transfer had worked. One gene conferred antibiotic resistance, the other caused bacteria expressing it to turn blue.
The enhanced Mycoplasma mycoides genome was added to a test-tube of M. capricolum, and the contents of the tube were exposed to an antibiotic.
Within four days blue colonies appeared, indicating that the host organisms had taken up the foreign DNA.
When the team analyzed the blue bacteria for DNA sequences specific to either mycoplasma, it found no evidence of the host bacteria's genetic material.
Many questions still remain. The researchers acknowledged that they were not sure how the one genome displaced the other.
"We don't know for certain how the donor genome takes over," Hamilton Smith, a lead author on the paper, told a teleconference.
The process is also "extremely inefficient" with a success rate of one in 150,000, said John Glass, a lead author on the paper.
Still, Venter said this proof of concept is likely to speed research in this emerging dPage: 1 2 3 Related medicine news :1
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