Craig Venter, who became famous for completing a privately-owned map of the human genome in 2000, is spearheading the effort to make the first synthetic lifeform.
Venter's team aim to construct a simpler version of Mycoplasma, a bacterium commonly found in human's reproductive and respiratory tracts. The bacterium has a small genome in the first place: with only one chromosome and 517 genes.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20051219.wxlife19/BNStory/specialScienceandHealth/ (via World Changing)
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