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Posted by on Jul 24, 2012 in Science |

Manage to simulate a first organism, using with 128 computers

Manage to simulate a first organism, using with 128 computers

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For the first time a microorganism has been completely recreated digitally, a task which required a cluster of 128 computers running for 9 to 10 hours to generate the data of the 25 categories of molecules involved in the processes of the life cycle of Mycoplasma genitalium.

This is a microorganism with one of the smallest genomes among living things in the world, with just 525 genes. E. coli bacteria, such as for example, has 4,288 genes, so that the tiny size of the M. genitalium made it ideal for attempting this feat, carried out by researchers at Stanford and J. Craig Venter Institute.

Bioengineers led by Markus Covert, were successful and published their work in the scientific journal Cell . The work is notable for several reasons. On one side are the advances that have been made to describe the processes that drive life, so that it is now possible to simulate most of the interactions within a cell.

The idea here is to simulate in a laboratory a disease, for example, and try to find cures or treatments more quickly able to observe the interactions between different parts of the body.

On the other hand, is the great need of computing power to simulate very simple in the organic world. The complexity of a is quite impressive. To simulate M. genitalium was to model and integrate individual subsystems 28, and despite all the effort that was made, there are critics who suggest that this work is only a fraction of what would be required to consider “realistic” simulation.

“At this point, do a of a single cell division takes about 10 hours and generates half a gigabyte of data. I think this fact is completely fascinating, because I do not know of anyone who has ever wondered how much data actually stores a living being, “said Markus Covert The New York Times .

That’s just for a single cell of an organism such as M. genitalium. What happens to a human, for example, has 10 trillion cells large, complex, plus a few million bacteria? Will we get to simulate one day? What is clear is that it is a tremendously complex task, and that the systems that we currently do not reach for it.

Links:
In First, Software Emulates Lifespan of Entire Organism (New York Times)
To the Simplest Model Microbe in the World, You Need 128 Computers (The Atlantic)
A Whole-Cell Computational Model Predicts Phenotype from Genotype (Cell)

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