DailyDirt: There's So Much We Don't Know About Life…
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Biology defies simple categorization — even though some think of the field of biology as glorified taxidermy. We even have a difficult time defining what life is. (Are viruses alive?) Fundamental questions about how life began and how life even continues are still elusive. We’ve just started to scratch the surface of collecting data that might help us understand more about ourselves and the ecosystem we live in. Here are just a few links on genomes and biodiversity that lead to more questions than answers.
- What is the ‘hypothetical minimal genome’ required for a living organism to exist? Researchers thought that maybe a living cell could get away with 256 genes, but it didn’t produce a viable living organism. So after a some trial & error iterations of editing simple bacterial genomes, it looks like 473 genes might be the smallest genome that life needs… to be called life. (And we still don’t know what a significant fraction of these genes do.) [url]
- Genome analysis is becoming more practical to do on a large scale, and for just $25,000, you could have your own personal genome — plus a battery of other medical tests that may or may not provide any meaningful results. Collecting all this health data, though, could start to provide some interesting correlations, and the company offering the service is named Human Longevity — so there might be something in aggregating this information that might help people live longer lives. [url]
- How many mammalian viruses exist? At least 320,000? And there’s probably no limit to the number. It’s important to note that not all viruses cause disease — bacteriophages keep us healthy by killing off bacteria that do cause diseases. So we don’t want to eradicate viruses, but it would be nice to know more about them. [url]
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