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Computerized Genome

In a new study in Cell, researchers at Stanford University and the J. Craig Venter Institute describe their computer model of the world's smallest bacterium, Mycoplasma genitalium, reports Popular Science's Colin Lecher. The model, which the researchers say is the first complete computer model of any living organism, is based on more than 900 studies of M. genitalium. M. genitalium has a small genome with 525 genes. "Researchers tallied the number of experimentally determined parameters in the model at more than 1,900; those were split up into 28 algorithms, which stepped in for biological processes," Lercher says. "The process might one day mean biologists could test hypotheses that wouldn't normally be possible in the real world, and it could expand into models of larger creatures." However, he notes, there's a few thousand genes of space between M. genitalium and humans.