big data biology

Can life be created?

J. Craig Venter, shown here in the greenhouse of his company, Synthetic Genomics, in La Jolla, Calif., is rewriting the building blocks of life. Venter plans to create bacteria, algae, and even plants. These customized products will carry out industrial tasks and displace fossil fuels. Exxon has invested in Venter's efforts for $600 million. But writing an organism's genetic blueprint from scratch is proving the most difficult task yet for the man who first sequenced a human genome and later transferred a genome from one organism to another.

- Last updated September 10 2012 06:07 PM ET
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