Biology 101, section # 11
Instructor B. Hanlon
I am so happy that my opinion on things matters to you, especially now that I am a student at California State University, Fullerton. I will try and do the best I can to help you understand the subject and implications of the article that you recently read about Dr. Craig Venture and how his company reportedly created the first synthetic cell using a bacterial cell (Callaway, 2010). I will explain what a bacterial cell is and contrast it with a human (eukaryotic) cell, describe exactly what Dr. Venture did with it, explain the potential applications and limitations of this ...view middle of the document...
The major differences between a bacterial cell (prokaryote) and a human (eukaryote) cell are significant. A eukaryote has a true nucleus, a prokaryote does not. Eukaryotic DNA is linear, Prokaryotic DNA is circular. Eukaryotic DNA is complex with proteins and is organized into chromosomes, prokaryotic DNA is not associated with proteins and is not formed into chromosomes. Both types of cells have ribosome’s, but the eukaryotic cells are larger and more complex. The cytoplasm of a eukaryotic cell is filled with a complex collection of organelles (many with their own membranes) which perform a complex set of tasks inside the cell, the prokaryotic cell contains no membrane bound organelles which are independent of the plasma membrane. As you can see Grandpa, a bacterial cell and a human cell are very different. Now, let me explain exactly what Dr. Venture and his team did to create the first “synthetic” cell.
The headline of the article suggests that Dr. Venture created the first synthetic cell, however, if you read through the article you will see that this revelation is misleading. What he and his team did was stitch together a genome (a particular order of genetic material, or DNA) and then insert it into a similar bacterial cell, which then divided over and over again creating their target bacterial cell. Stitching and inserting something suggests you already have the materials to do it, so the idea that he created the first synthetic (man-made) cell is highly inaccurate. More importantly, it has been reported that the synthetic genome that he created was nearly a replica of an already existing bacterium (Pollack, 2010). Also, inserting foreign genes into organisms has already been done. For example, human insulin is manufactured for diabetics by bacteria containing the human insulin gene and bacterial genes are put into corn plants in order to make them more resistant to herbicides and insects. Grandpa, the truth is that scientists do not know enough about genetics to design a whole code from...