Material-Life Boundary Research Group

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Introduction of Research

Everything in this world, including life forms, is made of matter. However, the difference between living organisms and matter is determined by whether they have the ability to self-replicate. Cells, one of the smallest units of living organisms, self-replicate by dividing. Viruses, the ultimate life form, can also replicate themselves by utilizing cells. However, they lose their ability to self-replicate when physically destroyed. If so, how far will it be destroyed before it ceases to be a living organism? Where is the boundary between matter and life? We explore the boundary between life and matter using the ultimate “visualization” tool called an electron microscope.

Cryo-electron microscopy system
Medusavirus discovered from spring water in Japan, which has a gene set similar to eukaryotes.