Craig Venter and his team have built the genome of a bacterium from scratch and incorporated it into a cell to make what they call the world's first synthetic life form.
The controversial feat, which has occupied 20 scientists for more than 10 years at an estimated cost of $40m, was described by one researcher as "a defining moment in biology".
The result – after $40m (£28m) and more than a decade – is the first microbe that thrives and replicates with only a synthetic genome to guide it. Every "letter" of its genetic code was made in the laboratory and stitched together, forming an artificial chromosome 1m characters long.
This achievement heralds the dawn of a new era in which new life is made to benefit humanity, starting with bacteria that churn out biofuels, soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, manufacture vaccines, and directly grow food and meat.
This single-celled, synthetic organism has had four "watermarks" deliberately written into its DNA to identify it in the future as a human made organism, which will enable its future descendants to be traced back to their creator, .....should they mutate, go astray, or otherwise get lost.
"We were ecstatic when the cells booted up with all the watermarks in place," Dr Venter told the Guardian. "It's a living species now, part of our planet's inventory of life."
But critics say that the potential benefits of synthetic organisms have been overstated.
Dr Helen Wallace from Genewatch UK, an organisation that monitors developments in genetic technologies, told BBC News that synthetic bacteria could be dangerous.
"If you release new organisms into the environment, you can do more harm than good," she said.
"By releasing them into areas of pollution, [with the aim of cleaning it up], you're actually releasing a new kind of pollution.
"We don't know how these organisms will behave in the environment."http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/may/20/craig-venter-synthetic-life-genomehttp://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/05/scientists-create-first-self-replicating-synthetic-life/
I notice that everything was made in the laboratory, I belive most of the DNA was synthetic.
Apart from a small amount that was taken from the Bacterium, Mycoplasma Mycoides.
But that should not detract from this world shattering Creation by Man, of a Self Replicating Life Cell,
that is destined to take its place alongside the existing life of the Universe.