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[DIGEST: NPR, The Washington Post]

When scientists first started sequencing the genomes of bacteria, they were astonished to find how complex and different the bacteria’s DNA were. When, in 2010, they started to create living bacteria from scratch, they found that even very small missteps could result in failure. Now, after years of trial and error, geneticists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have created a “minimal genome”: a cell with the fewest genes of all known living organisms.

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