Matt Wuerker

La vie sur commande

MELBOURNE – Au XVIe siècle, le médecin et alchimiste Paracelse proposait une formule pour créer un être vivant dont la première étape était l’introduction de sperme dans un « venter equinus », généralement traduit par crottin de cheval, alors que le mot latin venter signifie ventre ou utérus.

Les adeptes des sciences occultes seront donc sans doute séduits par le fait que c’est une équipe de chercheurs menée par Craig Venter qui a annoncé le mois dernier avoir créé une forme de vie synthétique : une bactérie dont le génome a été intégralement conçu et fabriqué en laboratoire à partir d’éléments chimiques.

Cette nouvelle bactérie, surnommée « Synthia », duplique et produit des protéines. Quelle que soit la définition utilisée, cette bactérie est vivante. Bien qu’elle soit très proche d’une bactérie naturelle dont elle a largement été copiée, les chercheurs ont intégré dans son génome des séquences d’ADN spécifiques prouvant qu’elle n’est pas un organisme naturel. Ces séquences comportent notamment, en code, une adresse de site web, les noms des chercheurs et des citations choisies, dont celle de Richard Feynman, « Ce que je ne peux pas construire, je ne peux pas le comprendre ».

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