'Evolution Chip' Automates Evolved Change
An automated device has been developed that evolves a biological molecule in just a few days. Brian Paegel and Gerald Joyce, of the Scripps Research Institute of La Jolla, CA, created the experiment to evolve molecules - or even cells - to sense environmental pollutants.
They took a form of ligase that is not naturally good at recognizing RNA molecules and put it into a tiny drop of RNA. Once the ligase had duplicated itself for a while, the researchers dropped the concentration of RNA in the drop. Only the most efficient copies of the ligase would survive.
RNA is usually used to create proteins from genes. But some kinds of RNA can perform tasks similar to protein enzymes. n the process, the ligase sews another strand of RNA to itself and is then duplicated by a pair of proteins.
Because of occasional errors in copying, the new ligase molecule might work differently from its predecessor – sometimes better, and sometimes worse. Paegel's team wanted to see if they could evolve a better ligase by natural selection.
The 'evolution chip' has hundreds of miniature chambers; once the ligase molecules became more efficient, a few of them were sucked up and placed in a new chamber. After seventy hours and billions of duplications, the new and improved ligase molecules were 90 times more efficient than the original starter sample.
This is not an exact match, but it reminds me of the Neoterics from Theodore Sturgeon's 1941 story Microcosmic God. A scientist created a new race of tiny beings, put them in an escape-proof chamber, and then challenged them to create solutions to problems.
They were completely in Kidder's power. Earth's normal atmosphere would poison them, as he took care to demonstrate to every fourth generation... They would make ... their little trial and error experiments hundreds of times faster than man...
(Read more about the Neoterics)
In the novel, James Kidder - the scientist who created the Neoterics - took credit for everything his tiny prisoners made for him. When researchers cause biological molecules to evolve into something more specifically useful, who gets the credit?
Via 'Darwin chip' brings evolution into the classroom.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/17/2008)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Oil from Algae - Can It Be Done?
'We dump everything that's waste into the tanks, pump the oil off the top.' - Hal Clement, 1950.
Amazing 'Hybrid' Solar-Powered Sea Slug Does Photosynthesis
Thank goodness for Star Trek.
Should You Submit Your DNA To A Database?
Consumer DNA services are often inaccurate.
Humans Evolve Deep Diving Abilities
Sounds like '60s sci-fi to me.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
SWEEPER Robot Peter Piper Picking Peppers
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant, apparently on caterpillar tracks, cutting off the ripe fruit.'
Oil from Algae - Can It Be Done?
'We dump everything that's waste into the tanks, pump the oil off the top.'
Moving Whole Planets, Revisited
There was a lot of work done on this idea over the years.
Disney Keeps Backups Of Star Wars Franchise Actors
'She is a personality-construct, a congeries of software agents...'
Farming In Space Starts With Mycorrhiza
'The inner leaves were beginning to curl faster than the outer leaves.'
Jaguar I-Pace Audible Vehicle Alert System For EVs
'Of course not a vehicle moved by means of internal explosions of a derivative of rock oil...'
Autonomous 'Fiberbots' Weave Large Structures
'It extrudes material like a spider.'
Birds Aren't Real - Wake Up, California! (With Bird Watching Guide)
'When he had first built them, they had been crude indeed, flying mechanisms with little more than a reflex-response unit.'
Self-Healing Material Pulls Carbon Out Of The Air
'... could seal the punctures.'
IRL Glasses Block Screens, Limit Vision To Real Life
'If you couldn't see the ads, how would you know what was fashionable?'
Testing The Single-Person Spacecraft
'...the lower part of the suit was simply a rigid cylinder.'
Shapeshifting Materials Transform By Light
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'
Fully Automated Farm Iron Ox Hydroponics
'Had these machines in some incredible fashion been provided with brains?'
BrainNet Social Network Of Brains
'I used my implant to tell MILLIE what we wanted and she took care of it'
Phil Nuyttnn's City Under The Sea
'Under the lower roof there was no water, but a clear and luminous atmosphere...'
IONITY Opens First 10 Fast-Charging Stations
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories