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Tiny 'Organic Robots' Made by US Scientists Can Reproduce – Report

CC BY-SA 4.0 / Sam Kriegman / A xenobot in simulation and reality A computer-designed organism. Left: the design discovered by the computational search method in simulation. Right: the deployed physical organism, built completely from biological tissue (frog skin (green) and heart muscle (red))
 A computer-designed organism. Left: the design discovered by the computational search method in simulation. Right: the deployed physical organism, built completely from biological tissue (frog skin (green) and heart muscle (red)) - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.11.2021
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The new successive generations of the xenobots appear to become smaller and smaller, until eventually losing the ability to reproduce.
Xenobots – living robots made from frog embryo cells by scientists from the University of Vermont and Tufts University in Massachusetts – have exhibited a capability for self-reproduction, the New Scientist reports.
According to the magazine, these tiny multicellular organisms seem to reproduce by grouping loose cells.
One experiment conducted by the researchers involved placing a group of xenobots into a dish containing about 60,000 single cells – the team discovered that the xenobots seem to cooperate to make more organisms similar to themselves.
“One [xenobot] parent can begin a pile and then, by chance, a second parent can push more cells into that pile, and so on, generating the child,” said Josh Bongard from the University of Vermont.
The researchers were also able to determine that each new generation of xenobot is smaller than its predecessor, with organisms containing less than 50 cells losing the ability to move and reproduce.
This discovery also marks the first time “multicellular organisms have been found to self-replicate in a way that doesn’t involve growth on the organism’s own body,” the magazine states.
“This work shows there was a previously unknown way that life could self-replicate,” Bongard remarked.
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