Title: Natural Synthetic Biology or how to learn from natural minimal cells
Authors: Andrés Moya.
Abstract:Symbioses involving prokaryotes living in close relationship with eukaryotic cells have been widely studied from a genomic perspective, especially in the case of insects. In the process towards host accommodation, symbionts are experiencing major genetic and phenotypic changes that can be detected by comparison with free-living relatives. But, as expected, several scenarios allowed the evolution of symbiotic associations, from the first stages of free-living bacteria, through secondary and facultative symbiosis, towards the final point of obligate primary endosymbiosis. The phenomenon of genome downsizing observed in endosymbionts, intracellular parasites and organelles has inspired a research program on minimal life based on the hypothesis that genomes must retain essential genes involved in housekeeping functions as well as a minimum amount of metabolic transactions for cellular survival and replication. Besides shedding light on this fundamental question, the search for minimal genomes is of much value in the context of Synthetic Biology. In this communication I will show several examples of our research on natural minimal cells.
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