When viewed from an engineer’s perspective, biology is often messy and imperfect. For example, redundancy is a common feature of biological systems, with the job of one biological component overlapping with that of another.
A study, recently published in the journal eLife, investigates whether some types of biological redundancy can—despite the apparent inefficiency—actually be beneficial.
Translation: A biological process with a high degree of redundancy
Translation is an energetically costly process by which cells convert genetic information into proteins. The decoding process is performed by ribosomes and transfer RNAs (tRNAs). These important biological molecules are themselves encoded in the cell’s genetic information, often by several (and sometimes hundreds) of identical gene copies.
For example, the commonly used laboratory bacterial strain Escherichia coli K-12 MG1655 contains seven copies of