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Keywords:

  • chemical evolution;
  • chlorouracil;
  • DNA;
  • nucleic acids;
  • xenobiology
Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Automated selection was used to evolve an Escherichia coli strain unable to synthesize thymine nucleotides into a chemically modified organism whose DNA genome is composed of adenine, cytosine, guanine, and an artificial base, the thymine analogue 5-chlorouracil. Evolving cells were initially observed as irregular filaments and progressively recovered the appearance of short rods typical of wild-type E. coli (see picture).