Scientists say they are close to synthesizing the genome of baker's yeast

Scientists say that they are one-third of the way to synthesizing the complete genome of baker's yeas
By Chad Young | Mar 10, 2017
Scientists say that they are one-third of the way to synthesizing the complete genome of baker's yeast.

The scientists have described how they built six of the 16 chromosomes required for the yeast, altering the genetic material to edit out and write in new characteristics.

"A lot of synthetic biology is motivated by this idea that you only understand something when you can build it," said John Hopkins computational biologist John Bader, one of the lead scientists of the project.

Bader added that now the scientists know enough about biological systems that they can design a chromosome on a computer, synthesize it in a laboratory, put it in the cell, and it works.

It is not the first time that designer cells have been built. In 2010, scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute created a bacterial cell controlled by a synthesized genome by copying the DNA of one bacterium into another.

In 2016, researchers took the effort a step further by building the first 'minimal cell,' an organism not found in nature that had the smallest number of genes required for life.

Several months later, a team led by scientists at Harvard Medical School successfully re-engineered a small portion of the genes of the bacterium E. coli.

This is not the first time that scientists have written genetic code for yeast. In 2014, Jef Boeke, director of New York University Langone's Institute for Systems Genetics and his colleagues synthesized their first chromosome.

The chromosomes generated this time are the largest amount of genetic material ever synthesized.


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