In an innovation that presages the dawn of organisms redesigned from scratch, the authors report the transplantation of an entire genome between species. They have moved the genome from one bacterium, Mycoplasma mycoides, to another, Mycoplasma capricolum, and have shown that the recipient cells can be ‘booted up’ with the new genome — in effect, a transplant that converts one species into another.
This is likely to be a curtain-raiser for the replacement of an organism’s genome with a wholly synthetic one, made by DNA-synthesis technology.
They way they did it is pretty interesting:
The researchers did not need to remove the recipient’s DNA before adding that of the donor; instead, they added an antibiotic-resistance gene to the M. mycoides donor genome. With two genomes already present, no replication was needed before the recipient cells could divide: one daughter cell had the DNA of M. capricolum, the other that of M. mycoides. But in the presence of the antibiotic, only the latter survived.