Master decoder sees Earth’s future in a petri dish

The Los Angeles Times published a decent interview with Craig Venter over the weekend.  The following are some interesting questions and answers:

Do you think DNA is everywhere?

I’m sure we’ll find organisms in outer space.

What makes you think extraterrestrials have DNA?

My personal guess is it will be ubiquitous throughout the universe. My favorite statistic is in our own galaxy: We have 100,000 Earth and super-Earth planets. I think the same chemicals get together to form planets. My guess is biology and life as we know it will be one of the universal aspects of the universe.

What is this new field of synthetic biology that you’re working on now?

We’re designing genomes to do what we want. I’ve described these as the design components of the future. If you liken that to the electronics industry in the 1950s, there were a handful of components — resistors, transistors, capacitors. We will have tens of millions of design components for biology.

What sort of things do you imagine could be built?

We’re trying to design cells that produce unique renewable fuels. We have one of those in extensive testing now that could be one of the first green jet fuels. Hopefully there’ll be hundreds of these. With this breadth of biology, we have the capability of probably making any chemical out there. It’s not hard even to imagine gasoline or octane that we put into our tanks. Bacteria can make that.

Read the whole interview here: Los Angeles Times

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