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U-Va. students are using DNA to try to make a 'new machine'

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Creating an original organism required no bolt of lightning for a team of University of Virginia students. But it did take buckets of ice, vials of bacteria and a FedEx delivery.

Nestled in the package were bits of DNA, whipped up in California and ordered online. When they arrived at a lab crowded with flasks, pipettes and aging equipment held together with pieces of red tape, the students plunged vials of E. coli bacteria into the ice-filled buckets. Then they heated the vials up and cooled them down again.

During that process, the tiny bacterial cells cracked open just enough to let the DNA inside, and a new life form was born: an army of tiny arsenic-absorbers, offering the possibility of cheaper, easier ways to clean up contaminated water.
 
 

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