Like Venter’s earlier work, this is interesting. But as Hunter has pointed out, the minimal genome still has too much specified complexity to be explained by unguided evolution.
Mycoplasma, the organism used by Venter’s lab, is parasitic or saprophytic. That is, it lives off other organisms or off organic waste from other organisms. In other words, it requires other living things for its survival. If anyone wants to infer anything about the origin of life from Venter’s minimal genome, they first have to explain the origin of other, more complex life forms. (Indeed, the stripped-down Mycoplasma made by Venter requires full life-support in the laboratory and probably could not survive in a natural environment.)
It lives in a rich medium.
The team’s achievement is remarkable, but says little about how cells could survive in a hostile environment.
See also: What we know and don’t, know about the origin of life
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