Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Gene Experiment

Here is another approach to exploring horizontal gene transfer

If you have created some simple bacteria in a virtual world like Unity3d. They don't have to be complex, just cells or even just spheres. Get them to move around a petri dish. They could have a nucleus and inside that they have genes as scripts. Each script has an effect like:

  • glow in the dark
  • turn red, green or blue
  • get longer or shorter.


You can then selectively knock out these genes and see the effects over time on them and their offspring. You can mate the bacteria to see which genes are expressed. Just an experiment on genetics. Something to share and start the ball rolling. Save everything in json so anyone can use it.

I expect this has already been done elsewhere. If so great but most examples aren't designed for others to build on. That's the idea here.

  • Unity is free to use
  • the code required is relatively simple
  • sharing the application and source code with others is relatively easy. 

Not only do you demonstrate the principles of genetics and gene transfer but you teach others that they can practice the principles of biology directly through digital research.

That is what really excites me about knowing how to program. I don't have to wait for my cell culture to grow. The only limit to what I can learn is my imagination. I can literally create my own laboratory and experiments whenever I wish. Fun :-)
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