Artificial and Natural Genetic Information Processing

In Mark Burgin & Wolfgang Hofkirchner (eds.), Information Studies and the Quest for Transdisciplinarity. Singapore: World Scientific. pp. 523-547 (2017)
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Conventional methods of genetic engineering and more recent genome editing techniques focus on identifying genetic target sequences for manipulation. This is a result of historical concept of the gene which was also the main assumption of the ENCODE project designed to identify all functional elements in the human genome sequence. However, the theoretical core concept changed dramatically. The old concept of genetic sequences which can be assembled and manipulated like molecular bricks has problems in explaining the natural genome-editing competences of viruses and RNA consortia that are able to insert or delete, combine and recombine genetic sequences more precisely than random-like into cellular host organisms according to adaptational needs or even generate sequences de novo. Increasing knowledge about natural genome editing questions the traditional narrative of mutations (error replications) as essential for generating genetic diversity and genetic content arrangements in biological systems. This may have far-reaching consequences for our understanding of artificial genome editing.
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