The synthetic cell created in 2016 required some fixes:
Five years ago, scientists created a single-celled synthetic organism that, with only 473 genes, was the simplest living cell ever known. However, this bacteria-like organism behaved strangely when growing and dividing, producing cells with wildly different shapes and sizes. Now, scientists have identified seven genes that can be added to tame the cells’ unruly nature, causing them to neatly divide into uniform orbs.BeauHD, “Scientists Create Simple Synthetic Cell That Grows and Divides Normally” at Slashdot
The function of five of the genes was unknown (wouldn;t they have been classified as “junk DNA”?):
“[The creators of JCVI-syn3.0] had thrown out all the parts of the genome that they thought were not essential for growth,” says Elizabeth Strychalski at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology. But their definition of what was necessary for growth turned out to be what was needed to make beautiful colonies growing on an agar plate, she says, rather than what was needed to produce cells that divide in a uniform and lifelike way.
By reintroducing various genes into these synthetic bacterial cells and then monitoring how the additions affected cell growth under a microscope, Strychalski and her team were able to pinpoint seven additional genes required to make the cells divide uniformly.Laya Liverpool, “Artificial life made in lab can grow and divide like natural bacteria” at New Scientist
This family of articles about JCVI-syn3 is quite a powerful argument against abiogenesis.
Abiogenesis [random origin of life] advocates claim that life started with “protocells” because extant life is far too complex to have started by natural processes.
But, all of our efforts to simplify extant life to produce a “protocell” have shown us that extant life is about as simple as it can be.
JVCI-syn3 has 473 genes, carefully paired down from the 1 million base pair genome of M. mycoides, and basically lives on life support.
JVCI-syn3A, the subject of this article, has an additional 19 genes (492 total) to make it a bit more robust, although still quite dependent on a coddled environment.
So, all available evidence tells us that “protocells” can’t be much simpler than extant life, but we all know that extant life is far, far too complex to have arrived from natural processes.
This should be the end of abiogenesis and rational atheism. But, we all know that these beliefs are not subject to lessons taught by actual evidence.
The paper is closed access.
See also: A zoologist on that microbe that copies its DNA in a way “unknown to science.” Tim Standish: Simpler systems do not necessarily come first because simple can be a lot harder to come up with than complex. Yes, that seems counterintuitive, but the history of technology bears that out. In some ways you could say the same about art.