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火星生物基因组测序 精选

已有 5682 次阅读 2012-10-23 00:06 |个人分类:生物学|系统分类:观点评述| 基因组, 生物, 火星

基因组学领域有个家伙叫“J. Craig Venter”。这个家伙相当不一般。全世界众多科学家一起测人类基因组序列的时候,他拉出一帮人马单干,用新的策略很快就赶上了国际合作组的进度,最后他们的测序结果与国际合作组的测序结果一起发表在Science和Nature上。后来,这个家伙带领的团队又创造了第一种人造细菌基因组,开创了合成生物学。

今天新闻报道说,这个家伙要开发火星生物基因组测序仪。我不得不惊叹,这个家伙的想法确实超前。我们整天谈创新,什么是新,这才是新。虽然可能技术上也没什么太大的创新,但这种思路、这种尝试,就是大胆、超前。美国下一次飞行器登陆火星要等到2018年,也不知道NASA的领导到时候是否还关系火星有没有生命,不知道会不会搭载他们测序仪。更专业一些,火星上即使有生命,遗传信息一定是地球生物的DNA吗?但他们没顾虑那么多,开发出来再说,能不能用上先不管。在火星上,也不用先探索有没有生物了,直接用测序仪检测。检测到了,火星生物和火星生物的基因组就一起发现了。这就是大胆、超前的基础科学研究。

新闻中还报道,美国这种人还不知Venter一个,还有另外一个家伙也在开发火星生物测序仪。这就是勇于探索的美国科学界。我们应该向美国科学界学习,赶超他们。

具体火星生物测序仪的开发过程和思路,请感兴趣的网友自己看下面的新闻吧。如果因为专业跨度太大,看不懂,跟我说一下,我翻译一下主要内容。大家也可以参考其他媒体对此新闻的中文报道

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The Scientist
Searching for Alien Genomes
J. Craig Venter plans to develop a machine to find and sequence DNA on Mars, but another genomics mogul, Jonathan Rothberg, may beat him to it.

By Jef Akst | October 22, 2012

J. Craig Venter and Jonathan Rothberg, two widely known geneticists, both hope to send a DNA sequencing machine to Mars that will be able to prove once-and-for-all whether life exists on the Red Planet.

"There will be DNA life forms there," Venter predicted last week (October 16) at the Wired Health Conference in New York, Technology Review reported. (Hear his comments in this video, starting at 00:11:01.)

Venter said that a collaboration between the J. Craig Venter Institute and his company, Synthetic Genomics, is developing the machine for the task and is doing test runs in the Mojave Desert. Eventually, the machine should be able to gather soil samples and isolate microbes, then sequence their DNA, and send the data back home to Earth.

Rothberg, founder of DNA sequencing company Ion Torrent, is working on making some alterations to the company’s "Personal Genome Machine" to reduce its size from 30 kilograms to just 3 kilograms, with the goal of putting it on a NASA rover, and prepare it for the trip to Mars. Aside from slimming the sequencer, Rothberg's team is making other alterations that make it fit for long-distance space travel, such as making the machine capable of withstanding heavy radiation. The effort is part of a Harvard-MIT collaboration funded by NASA and aimed at finding extraterrestrial genomes.

NASA isn’t scheduled to send another rover to the Red Planet until 2018 at the earliest, however, and even then, it's not certain that a DNA sequencing device would be along for the ride. But the argument for sending the machine to Mars, as opposed to just bringing home some soil samples, is contamination. If the samples are brought home and then analyzed, "no one would believe you," Tessi Kanavarioti, a chemist and Martian biologist, told Tech Review.

As for who will be the one to build the first Martian sequencer, only time will tell. "The hard thing about getting to Mars is hitting the NASA specifications," Harvard University’s George Church, a senior member of the Harvard-MIT team, told Tech Review. "[Venter] isn't ahead of anyone else."


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