Science 2 min read

Scientists Create Alien DNA That can Store and Transmit Information

An illustration of Hachimoji DNA | Photo courtesy of Indiana University School of Medicine

An illustration of Hachimoji DNA | Photo courtesy of Indiana University School of Medicine

A team of researchers funded by NASA just created a new kind of DNA that can store and transmit information. This “alien DNA” could possibly pave the way to the development of new methods of discovering extraterrestrial life.

While the DNA-like molecular structure is not a life form, the researchers claim that its genetic system is a representation of what a DNA-based alien life form may look like.

In a statement, NASA’s Planetary Science Division acting director Lori Glaze said:

“Life detection is an increasingly important goal of NASA’s planetary science missions, and this new work will help us to develop effective instruments and experiments that will expand the scope of what we look for.”

The synthetic DNA was fabricated by researchers from the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Florida. While it’s similar to real DNA, the new molecular structure has eight ingredients instead of four.

The Alien DNA

According to the paper published by the team in the journal Science, their alien DNA has the four nucleotides present in living things here on Earth: the adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. The four additional ingredients allegedly copy the informational structures of the original components.

The combination resulted in a double-helix structure capable of storing and transferring information. The team called their creation “hachimoji” DNA, derived from the Japanese words “hachi” meaning eight and “moji” meaning letter.

Steven Benner, the lead researcher of the team, said:

“By carefully analyzing the roles of shape, size, and structure in hachimoji DNA, this work expands our understanding of the types of molecules that might store information in extraterrestrial life on alien worlds.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Serazin, Templeton World Charity Foundation President and a supporter of the work believes that the breakthrough discovery could be essential in expanding the range of possibilities necessary for life to exist.

Read More: Extremophiles In Our Stratosphere Might Be Key To Discovering Alien Life

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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