Synthetic Biology: Microbes defy rules of DNA

virusRecoding could stop synthetic organisms from sharing their modified DNA,
as happens when a virus (red) infects a bacterium (green).

The instructions encoded into DNA are thought to follow a universal set of rules across all domains of life. But researchers report today in Science that organisms routinely break these rules.

The finding has implications for the design of synthetic life: by designing organisms that break the rules, researchers may be able to make novel life forms resistant to viral infection. Making these organisms also been proposed as a way to stop synthetic life forms from infecting unintended hosts. Widespread exceptions to these rules, however, could make it difficult to engineer organisms that will not pass on their DNA to those in the wild.

Source: Nature News.