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News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

Scientists create first-ever virtual germ


A group from Stanford University in the US has created the first computer model of a pathogenic bacterium species. Using a computer-aided design technique, the team has mimicked the “behavior” of all of its genes in only 28 algorithms.

­In a move to make the world safer and treatment of disease more efficient, the research group, led by bioengineer Markus Covert, chose a very simple organism to start with – a primitive bacterium called Mycoplasma genitalium.

The pathogen, which is implicated in some urethral and vaginal infections, is ideal for a pioneering project of this kind. It has the smallest genome of any free-living organism, with only 525 genes. By contrast, the common bacterial species used in laboratory experiments – E. coli – has 4,288 genes.

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