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Scientists add new letters to bacteria's genetic 'alphabet'

For possibly billions of years, the DNA blueprints for life on Earth have been written with just four genetic "letters" -- A, T, G and C. On Wednesday, scientists announced that that they added two more.

In a paper published in the journal Nature, bio-engineers at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla said they had successfully inserted two synthetic molecules into the genome of an Escherichia coli bacterium, which survived and passed on the new genetic material.

In addition to the naturally occurring nucleotides adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine, which form the rungs of DNA's double-helix structure, the bacterium carried two more base-pair partners, which study authors have dubbed d5SICS and dNaM.
 
 

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