Of course, it was put there by a Canadian poet.
Recently we learned that “An original piece of “living poetry” has been created in a lab in Canada.” Christian Bok encoded some of his verse into a DNA strip and got it inserted into an E.coli bacterium:
Dr Bok used cryptography to embed his poem into the genetics of the bacterium, devising a chemical alphabet in which each letter is represented by a specific triplet of nucleotides. So, for example, the nucleotide sequence “ATA” codes for the letter “y” and GTG stands for the letter “n”.
– Rachael Buchanan, “Poet writes verse in bug’s genes and receives reply”, BBC News (28 April 2011).
For example his first poem’s opening words “Any style”, once encoded into DNA, instructs the cell to build a protein that starts with the following amino acid string: threonine, valine, isoleucine, serine, lysine, cysteine, isoleucine, alanine, tyrosine, which can in turn be decoded to spell out the start of the bacterium’s new poetic response “The faery…”
His scientific collaborator at the University of Calgary, Professor Sui Huang, confirmed that their lab has now succeeded in implanting the poem gene as a free floating chunk of DNA into E. coli and witnessed the bug express its own poetic protein response.
Bok, who has no science training, thinks he has created “something that will last over epochal time.”
Scientists express doubt:
But Dr Julian Parkhill of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute was sceptical of the chances for literary immortality. “His poem would be rapidly removed by natural selection, as it would confer no benefit on the host bacterium,” he said. “Natural selection as literary criticism”.
Professor Huang conceded that this is a very real possibility. “If the poem protein conveys even a slight disadvantage on the bacterium, the gene could be kicked out over time,” he said.
If that were true, sources suggest, wouldn’t corporate logos be appearing everywhere? Nestle on flower petals, ING Bank on oak leaves?
See this pig of a story on what really happens when carefully selected and sequestered genes are released into nature. How long did it take the real pig to reassert itself?