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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Capillary Electrophoresis and the Single Cell: The How and Why

Life on earth is currently estimated to have begun approximately 3.8 billion years ago.1 Protists were the first single cells of eukaryotic origin. Though many of these organisms are only composed of one single cell, their importance extends beyond their relative simplicity. In fact, they serve as the basis for the ecology of advanced organisms. The questions what is life and how does it originate point to the paradox inherent in the single cell. Modern science has yet to uncover a completely satisfying response. If such questions are so difficult to answer, it stands to reason that single-celled organisms — among the simplest eukaryotic species on earth — must in reality be incredibly complex. The human desire for self-understanding, down to the simplest biological building block, promotes extensive single-cell study within the research community. For good reasons, investigators imprison themselves in the cell, searching for the mystery of life and ways to extend and improve its quality. Completing an inventory of biochemicals in a single cell in terms of structural identities, quantities of the chemicals and chemical changes that occur over the cell’s lifetime should greatly assist in comprehending life’s processes.

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Jeffrey N. Stuart and Jonathan V. Sweedler, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, USA.
LCGC Europe, Jul 1, 2003.


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