Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Friday, 21 May 2010 12:16 UK

Potential of synthetic life milestone for science

Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first living cell to be controlled entirely by synthetic DNA.

The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell. The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA.

Newsnight's Science editor Susan Watts reports on the breakthrough and what it means.

Broadcast on Thursday 20 May 2010.

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