'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 -
DNA May Contain Malware
'You were told to embed the logical pathogen.' - A. Reynolds and S. Baxter, 2016.
GMO Houseplant Cleans Your Air
Removes compounds too small to be captured by a HEPA filter.
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.
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.
FLIR Black Hornet 3 Palm-sized Drone
These drones can provide situational awareness beyond visual line-of-sight capability.
Dockworkers Protest Driverless Trucks
'It resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'
Flying Car Concept By Kash Sirinanda
'Each one consists of a hub with many tiny spokes... On the end is a squat foot, rubber tread on the bottom...'
Unfurl The Future! Huawei Mate X versus Galaxy Fold
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently from the top of the unit and immediately grew rigid.'
Amazon Echo And Google Home Should Have Morality Software
'The Dwoskin Morality Rating-Computer could 'spot the slightest tendency to deviation' from the social norm...'
China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?'
China Social Credit System Like State-Run Whuffie
'At least there was no mandatory Whuffie check on the monorail platform...'
Project Soli Radar Gesture Chip Now FCC Approved
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'
Stan, Robot Valet, Will Drag Your Car Away
'He activated the grapple tracks. '
Jibo Home Robot Says Goodbye, Is Killswitched
'It resembles an oyster....'
Johns Hopkins Says Asteroid Deflection Will Be Difficult
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...'
Fabric Automatically Cools Or Insulates Based On Environment
'...a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system.'
Deepfakes From OpenAI GPT-2 Algorithm
'How can you compete with an IBM heavy-duty logomatic analogue?'
John Deere Self-Driving Tractor
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.'
North Focals Smart Glasses Provide Augmented Reality In Style
'The world ... is drenched in unfamiliar information all the way to the horizon.'
Tesla Driver Caught Napping Behind The Wheel
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories