The Hacked Winogradsky Column

 

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The inspiration for this work is a research paper that  I published in 1997. Entitled “Integration of Heterologous Plasmid DNA into multiple sites on the genome of Campylobacter coli following natural transformation” we demonstrated that certain types of bacteria can naturally take up any DNA that they are mixed with, and integrate this into their own genomes. More recently, a study has shown that naturally competent environmental bacteria can take up any DNA, even it it’s degraded (including DNA from a 43,000-y-old woolly mammoth bone),  and incorporate it into their genomes, and thus, natural genetic exchange of DNA from dead and even extinct organisms to contemporary bacteria can take place http://www.pnas.org/content/110/49/19860.full.

 

In the light of the research above,  I have added my own DNA to the column knowing that some of it will be taken up by the bacteria in it and be integrated into their own genomes. In a sense, then I have hacked this bacterial ecology, and corrupted its genetics, so that is now becoming a human/bacterial chimera. The Winogradsky column is also a self-sustaining and perpetual ecosystem, so that over time the sequence of my  integrated DNA will be begin to change and mutate, as the bacteria containing it evolve. They will eventually change the meaning of the information embedded within my DNA,  and perhaps at some future point in time, redirect its purpose to suit there own ends.

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