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Resurrecting LUCA - Engineering of RNA-encoded Cellular Life Using Dual Evolution and Intergenomic Transplantation

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 RiboLife project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the RiboLife project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "RiboLife" about.

create    entities    assisted    biological    stored    shape    precursors    extremely    prototype    complementation    networks    encoding    transplantation    darwinian    genome    intracellular    last    reengineering    luca    molecular    intergenomic    cell    alternative    universal    transition    genomic    history    world    driver    rna    modern    functions    dual    alternating    core    team    made    survive    genomes    refine    combined    strictly    explore    evolution    iterative    encoded    living    hybrids    doppelganger    biology    transfer    recreating    environments    central    deletion    depends    life    questions    rounds    combining    crispr    ancestor    genetic    primitive    cellular    dna    replication    ancient    strategy    construct    bacterial    representing    evolve    engineering    synthetic    cas9    replicons    fundamentally    positively    chromosomes    material    existence    infers    day    free    fossil    experimentally    transformative    editing    answer    body   

Project "RiboLife" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: 80539
website: n.a.

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Germany [DE]
 Total cost 1˙500˙000 €
 EC max contribution 1˙500˙000 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2018-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2019
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2019-01-01   to  2023-12-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

Modern cellular life strictly depends on DNA as genetic material. However, a large body of evidence infers the existence of a previous, more primitive biology in which RNA also stored information in cellular entities. Recreating a living cellular fossil representing this transition from an ancient RNA world to modern DNA-based life would fundamentally advance our understanding of our biology’s history, and enable us to explore its biological properties experimentally. However, the reengineering of existing molecular systems into a viable doppelganger of the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) or one of its precursors is extremely challenging. I propose to use a novel, combined top-down and bottom-up approach to create a modern-day doppelganger of LUCA by engineering bacterial hybrids with core cellular functions encoded on RNA. Using Darwinian Evolution as driver, my team and I will prototype and refine synthetic RNA-replicons through alternating replication in both cell-free and intracellular environments. This “dual evolution” approach will shape increasingly complex RNA networks capable of encoding complex genetic information. Following this, we will use these networks to create information-rich RNA chromosomes, enabling the transfer of essential genomic information from DNA to RNA. Finally, we will address this intergenomic transplantation by combining a novel RNA-delivery strategy with iterative rounds of genome deletion and complementation using state-of-the art CRISPR-Cas9 assisted genome editing.

The proposed research will fundamentally advance synthetic biology, and could positively answer the transformative questions: Can we create, program and evolve life-like systems that can survive in both cell-free and intracellular environments? Can we use these entities to construct an alternative biology in which central cellular activities are encoded on genomes not made of DNA?

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The information about "RIBOLIFE" are provided by the European Opendata Portal: CORDIS opendata.

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