An international collaboration of approximately 100 laboratories was launched in August to develop a computer model of E.coli. The International E.coli Alliance includes labs in the United States, Europe, and Japan, according to Barry Wanner, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Purdue University and a leader of the effort.

"We're trying to learn everything about a living organism. In spite of the fact we've been studying for 60 years, and we have an enormous amount of information about it—about 30 percent of its proteins have been crystallized—we still can't put it together," says Wanner, head of the E.coli Model Cell Consortium, created in March, whose 50 members form the U.S. component of the international alliance.

"We need different ways of probing the system. We need computational methods, we need chemical methods," adds Wanner, who believes that an in silicoE.coli would advance knowledge of human medicine because it would...

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