Building life in the lab with Kate Adamala

This episode is with Kate Adamala. She is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota. Kate is a renowned synthetic biologist and biochemist who has made significant contributions to the field of artificial life. Her research focuses on building synthetic cells, designing artificial genetic circuits, and exploring the origins of life on Earth. In this discussion, we will cover topics related to the first artificial life created in the lab, the creation of synthetic cells, various techniques for constructing artificial life, the origins of life, and the significant applications of synthetic cells.    

Guest info: 

Website Twitter Youtube

Episode links: 

Website Youtube Spotify Apple podcast Google podcast

Follow Reason with Science: 

Website Youtube Spotify Apple podcast Google podcast


00:00:00 Introduction 

00:01:01 First synthetic life at Craig Venter institute 

00:03:46 What is a synthetic cell? 

00:05:27 Definition of life 

00:07:54 Replication of synthetic cells 

00:10:00 Meaning of building life in the lab 

00:11:22 Properties of biochemistry 

00:12:55 Top-down or bottom-up approaches to build synthetic cells 

00:14:28 Major components to build a cell 

00:15:53 Importance of compartmentalization for synthetic cells 

00:17:23 Liquid-liquid phase separation compartments 

00:18:36 Requirements for the assembly of synthetic cells 

00:20:04 Life from scratch 

00:22:05 Information system in the synthetic cells 

00:26:25 Genes to replication of the synthetic cells 

00:30:11 Life of the synthetic cells 

00:30:31 Limiting factors for the growth of synthetic cells 

00:31:57 How the compartments are maintained? 

00:32:58 Can synthetic cells grow forever? 

00:33:51 Size of synthetic cells 

00:35:20 Shape of the cells 

00:35:49 Transporters in the synthetic cells 

00:37:55 Applications of synthetic cells 

00:42:20 Synthetic cells to study origin of life 

00:43:36 Evolution of protocells 

00:46:45 What is missing in building life in the lab? 

00:48:12 How the work on synthetic cells can help in astrobiology? 

00:49:52 Understanding multicellularity 

00:51:07 Work on snowflake yeasts 

00:52:17 Studying eukaryogenesis 

00:53:01 How can we study evolution (by natural selection) using synthetic cells? 

00:54:20 Synthetic cells for the environment 

00:56:27 Limits to the biochemistry of synthetic cells 

00:58:42 Engineering prosthetic 

01:01:07 Viruses and the synthetic cells 

01:02:27 Replication competent viruses 

01:03:40 Alternatives of metabolism and biochemistry of synthetic cells 

01:07:13 Yields from synthetic cells 

01:09:22 Build-a-cell initiative 

01:12:55 Major questions in the build-a-cell community 

01:15:21 Further reading 

01:16:54 Thank you!    

Music by: Ahmed Hassan (