A team of scientists at Stanford University has created the first computer model of an organism, NBC News reports.
The model was based off of a microbe, Mycoplasma genitalium, that causes sexually transmitted diseases. Though it only contains 525 genes – a human being, by comparison, has more than 20,000 – it still took 128 computers about ten hours to replicate 28 cellular “nodules,” according to TG Daily, using data from more than 900 scientific papers to simulate every function, including DNA replication and cell division.
The microbe’s size, or lack thereof, has made it useful as a gateway to studying patterns in bigger organisms, said Jonathan Karr, who was co-first author on the Stanford team’s findings.
“The goal hasn’t only been to understand M. genitalium better,” Karr said. “It’s to understand biology generally.”
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