05 December 2008

Not Just Beer -- Yeast Factories For Everyone!

The Venter Institute has just published a PNAS paper detailing their work to turn beer yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) into multi-use factories. These yeast factories can be made to crank out components for completely artificial organisms which the Venter Institute are developing. Artificial organisms that can make synthetic fuels, valuable chemicals and chemical feedstocks, new pharmaceuticals -- a veritable cornucopia of biologically produced treasure.
Senior author Clyde Hutchison added, "I am astounded by our team's progress in assembling large DNA molecules. It remains to be seen how far we can push this yeast assembly platform but the team is hard at work exploring these methods as we work to boot up the synthetic chromosome."

Venter and his team continue to work towards creating a living bacterial cell using the synthetic genome sequence of the Mycoplasma genitalium bacteria.
More from Green Car Congress:
The JCVI team continues to explore the capacity for DNA assembly in yeast, and the various applications of this particular method. They conjecture that a variety of combinations of DNA molecules and genetic pathways could be manufactured in yeast, in essence turning yeast into a genetic factory for specifically designed and optimized processes. This advance is being used by scientists at the company SGI in making next generation biofuels and biochemicals more efficiently. _GCC
Venter's team is not the only group working on the genetic transformation of organisms to create biofuels. This Al Fin Energy piece describes the work of the Chromatin-Monsanto alliance.

A South Korean scientific team has just completed the sequencing of the genome of a Korean scientist Kim Seong-jin, as the genomics revolution spreads worldwide. The tools of genomics will soon be inexpensive and ubiquitous enough so that garage hobbyists will be able to sequence various genomes, and experiment by inserting gene stacks -- "artificial chromosomes" -- into plants and animals.

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