Minimal-Genome Cells Evolve as Fast as Normal Cells
- 05 Sep 2023
- 6 min read
Why in News?
Researchers from Indiana University, Bloomington, shed light on the evolutionary potential of cells with minimal genes (smallest set of genes that are essential for the survival and reproduction of an organism).
- Their study, published in the journal Nature, explores how cells stripped down to only essential genes can adapt and evolve, challenging conventional notions of genetic flexibility and mutation rates.
What are the Key Findings from the Study?
- The study concentrated on a synthetic minimal-cell version of Mycoplasma mycoides, a bacterial species that can cause respiratory disease in goats and cattle.
- This minimal version has only 493 essential genes, in contrast to the non-minimal strain with 901 genes, and the study spanned over 300 days.
- Mycoplasma mycoides has the highest recorded mutation rate for any cellular organism.
- Cells with minimal essential genes can adapt and evolve at a rate comparable to normal cells.
- Minimal cells exhibited mutation rates similar to non-minimal cells, despite their reduced genetic material.
- Genome minimization did not hinder the rate of adaptation in minimal cells.
- Understanding the evolution of minimal cells has implications for fields like synthetic biology, where researchers employ engineering principles to design organisms for applications in medicine and fuel production.
- This study reveals that engineered cells are not static; they undergo evolution, shedding light on how synthetic organisms might adapt when facing the inevitable forces of evolution.
- A gene is a segment of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that codes for a specific protein or function. Genes are the basic units of heredity and can be inherited from parents or mutated by environmental factors.
- Gene Mutation:
- A gene mutation is a change in the DNA sequence of a gene that may affect its function or expression.
- Gene mutations can be caused by errors during DNA replication, exposure to radiation or chemicals, or other factors.
- A genome is the complete set of genetic information of an organism or a virus.
- Genetic Sequencing:
- It is the process of determining the order of nucleotides or bases (A, G, C, and T) in a DNA or RNA molecule
- Genome Editing:
- It is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA is inserted, deleted, modified or replaced in the genome of a living organism.
- Genetic Modification:
- It is the process of changing the DNA of an organism, such as a bacterium, plant or animal, by introducing elements of DNA from a different organism.