Chemistry

Scientists design living organisms that make chemical bonds not found in nature

Scientists design living organisms that make chemical bonds not found in nature

Move over, chemists. Thanks to proteins from Icelandic bacteria, scientists at Caltech have managed to coax microbes into making silicon-carbon bonds, a feat that until now has been achieved only by humans in the lab.

The findings, published last week in the journal Science, could open the door to new avenues in organic chemistry and drug development — and could help scientists investigate essential mysteries, such as whether life could be based on silicon instead of carbon on other planets.

“My whole interest is, how do you use evolution as an innovation engine?” said senior author Frances Arnold, a chemist at Caltech. “How does evolution solve...

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