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Chiral life concept - the synthesis is now starting

Posted by Jarek Duda on 06/07/2017

Dear Greg, Nearly exactly a decade ago we had a discussion about chiral life concept here ( http://www.gregbear.com/archives/board_2007_1.htm ) - of synthesizing mirror version of our life. As the synthetic life topic is quickly growing, I have recently decided to resurrect the Wikipedia article ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiral_life_concept ) and then found some essential materials now linked there, like 2010 WIRED article "Mirror-image cells could transform science - or kill us all" confirming my concerns that such mirror photosynthesizing cyanobacteria could eradicate our life by dominating our ecosystem due to lack of natural enemies ... and that there are now strong direct economical motivations like aptomers production ... and finally Nature article about Chinese synthesizing mirror polymerize in 2016 ... So I wanted to propose to return to discussion about this seeming extremely important but nearly ignored topic - we just cannot afford that the public will wake up when a mirror bacteria is already synthesized e.g. in another decade in some Chinese lab. With best regards, Jarek Duda -- dr Jaros?aw Duda Institute of Computer Science and Computer Mathematics, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland http://th.if.uj.edu.pl/~dudaj/

Re: Chiral life concept - the synthesis is now starting

Posted by Greg Bear on 06/13/2017

Still a very interesting topic! Happy to sponsor a discussion here and on Facebook. My first caveat would be the notion that these organisms would have no natural enemies. Are there no bacteria or viruses capable of using chiral nutrients/hosts?

Re: Chiral life concept - the synthesis is now starting

Posted by Jarek on 06/13/2017

To get into a cell, some pathogens don't care about chirality (e.g. have mechanical needle), some do (e.g. look for a specific membrane protein). Then inside virus would be rather hopeless, bacteria couldn't digest anything. However, there is some flexibility, evolution - bacteria might "learn" to digest mirror glucose, but adapting for viruses seems impossible (?). Anyway, these are extremely complex questions, requiring good understanding and preparation before such organisms are already synthesized.

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