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Biotech Beer Science

Synthetic Chromosomes Successfully Integrated Into Brewer's Yeast 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the origin-story-for-superyeast dept.
New submitter dunnomattic writes: "Researchers at New York University School of Medicine have achieved a milestone in synthetic biology. A fully synthetic yeast chromosome, dubbed 'synIII,' has successfully replaced chromosome 3 of multiple living yeast cells. The researchers pieced together over 250,000 nucleotide bases to accomplish this feat. Dr. Jef Boeke, the lead author of the study, says, 'not only can we make designer changes on a computer, but we can make hundreds of changes through a chromosome and we can put that chromosome into yeast and have a yeast that looks, smells and behaves like a regular yeast, but this yeast is endowed with special properties that normal yeasts don't have.' Work is underway (abstract) to synthesize the remaining 15 chromosomes."
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Synthetic Chromosomes Successfully Integrated Into Brewer's Yeast

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  • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:40AM (#46603251)

    One giant leap for Synthehol [memory-alpha.org].

  • Next goals: (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    1) Metabolize human flesh
    2) Able to more easily spread via airborne routes
    3) Increase growth exponent
    4) Secrete nerve gas
    5) Infinite life span
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately that is a potential reality given enough sophistication in the field of biological engineering. Although, still a ways off.

      • Re:Next goals: (Score:5, Informative)

        by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Friday March 28, 2014 @12:37PM (#46603839) Homepage Journal

        Honestly, I think that fear is overblown. Vertebrate pathogens have had hundreds of millions of years of optimization in the most ruthlessly selective "laboratory" ever known, and while there are obviously some pretty deadly ones out there they haven't managed to wipe us out yet. Nothing we do in a lab is likely to come close, in terms of coming up with something that can spread wildly on its own.

        I used to work between a synthetic bio lab at one end of the hall and an infectious disease lab at the other. Ask which one scared me more.

        • Re:Next goals: (Score:4, Interesting)

          by MightyYar (622222) on Friday March 28, 2014 @01:13PM (#46604277)

          On the other hand, things like Dutch Elm Disease show just how devastating a new pathogen can be. I think co-evolution is why "natural" diseases don't have much chance in wiping us out. Given this new ability to skip evolution altogether, look out.

          • Re:Next goals: (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Friday March 28, 2014 @01:28PM (#46604479) Homepage Journal

            Co-evolution only looks "co" on very large timescales; every new trick our immune systems have come up with has been in response to something a pathogen already came up with. Sure, there always can (and will) be new plagues, whether the victims are trees or people. I just think they're a whole lot more likely to come from the nigh-uncountable number of random "experiments" taking place in the wild than they are from anything done in a lab.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I don't think the fear is overblown and I believe it to be quite justified by the theoretical potential of biotechnology. If history reveals anything to me, it is that humans have a very difficult time comprehending the consequences of their actions -- particular when it comes to non-linear advancements. The field of biological engineering is only a baby and we have yet to fully realize its potential; we only began to sequence genomes within the last two decades and we are just barely beginning to create o

        • Nature optimises for survival, though, whereas a designer pathogen can be optimised to infect, lie low, and then kill as many host organisms as possible, perhaps by employing some kind of biological trigger in the environment to synchronise its action.

          It doesn't matter whether its first efflorescence is sustainable in the long term. There will always be a role for it in human politics.

  • So this ... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:47AM (#46603339)

    ... is how the zombie apocalypse begins, with mutant yeast in our beer. I have an idea for the first brand: Coorpse Light.

  • by VorpalRodent (964940) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:48AM (#46603357)

    So, no super speed, or strength, or other abilities, no synthesizer music.

    For our $6,000,000, all we get is a "yeast endowed with special properties other yeasts don't have"? This will not make a compelling television drama. Perhaps a bland sitcom, but not much more.

    • What's that in the bar?

      Is it an Ale?

      Is it a Lager?

      NO! It's SUPERBEER

      *theme tune plays*

      • Is it an Ale?

        Is it a Lager?

        I guess that all depends on whether it is a top-fermenting yeast or a bottom-fermenting yeast...

    • All yeast dies off from alcohol at some level. If this is a serious commercial adjustment to the organism then I would be working on increasing alcohol tolerance. This would give better yields for the distillers and new wine and beer/ale/mead concoctions that will be ass kicking. Fortunately the Beer Pong Table industry is ready!
      https://www.google.com/search?q=Beer+Pong+tables&num=30&newwindow=1&safe=off&sa=X&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ei=UKA1U6LtIKPnsATSlIHABg&ved=0CEsQ [google.com]
      • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@worfMOSCOW.net minus city> on Friday March 28, 2014 @12:35PM (#46603823)

        All yeast dies off from alcohol at some level. If this is a serious commercial adjustment to the organism then I would be working on increasing alcohol tolerance. This would give better yields for the distillers and new wine and beer/ale/mead concoctions that will be ass kicking.

        Or, Montsanto will, besides owning the entire food business, also own the entire alcoholic drink business as well.

        Welcome to the new world - where the only thing you can have is specially filtered water. After all, a plain glass of tap or bottled may have Monstanto yeast in it, and you'll need to license that bottle if you want to drink it.

        • by DRJlaw (946416)

          Or, Montsanto will, besides owning the entire food business, also own the entire alcoholic drink business as well.

          Or, you know, you could grow your own food and make your own drink using 'heirloom' stock. Rumor has it [treehugger.com] people have based entire businesses around heirloom strains.

          Welcome to the new world - where the only thing you can have is specially filtered water. After all, a plain glass of tap or bottled may have Monstanto yeast in it, and you'll need to license that bottle if you want to drink it.

          I've

          • Isn't that also the process by which Monsanto created the roundup-ready crops in the first place?

            • They inserted a gene for a version of the EPSP synthase enzyme (the enzyme that produces aromatic amino acids, and the target of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round-Up) from Agrobacterium, as well as a gene from petunia that moves the enzyme to the chloroplast where it is needed. That way when you spray Round-Up, it binds to and deactivates the native plant version of EPSP synthase, but the bacterial one, which is different at the binding site of the glyphosate, still functions, thus creating an her

        • Montsanto will, besides owning the entire food business, also own the entire alcoholic drink business as well.

          You are wrong, [agweb.com] promoting a bullshit conspiracy theory, and you didn't even spell Monsanto right either time.

      • If this is a serious commercial adjustment to the organism then I would be working on increasing alcohol tolerance.

        If that is a thing you can adjust, I think there are organisms other than the yeast that would be better served by that improvement.

      • It would also make higher-alcohol distiller's beer available so less energy has to go into distilling for hard liquor or for fuel alcohol.

      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday March 28, 2014 @02:38PM (#46605143) Homepage Journal

        All yeast dies off from alcohol at some level. If this is a serious commercial adjustment to the organism then I would be working on increasing alcohol tolerance.

        I would be wanting to make it make a biofuel better than alcohol. If you're gonna think about gene-tampering, think big.

        • All yeast dies off from alcohol at some level. If this is a serious commercial adjustment to the organism then I would be working on increasing alcohol tolerance.

          I would be wanting to make it make a biofuel better than alcohol. If you're gonna think about gene-tampering, think big.

          What if they could make a beer that was so strong it caused you to think you were going somewhere when you were just sitting in your living room? That could save a bunch of carbon.... wait, how much carbon in a beer belch? Munroe!!!

      • by mpe (36238)
        All yeast dies off from alcohol at some level. If this is a serious commercial adjustment to the organism then I would be working on increasing alcohol tolerance. This would give better yields for the distillers and new wine and beer/ale/mead concoctions that will be ass kicking,

        Adding an amylase gene might also help.
    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      but not much more

      Just wait till you have it growing between your legs and nothing kills it... :p

    • I think it will become an action series: the Six Million Dollar Yeast.
    • by gzuckier (1155781)

      Reminds me of Dmitri Martin's Amoebacorn; a microscopic organism with magical powers that are insignificant because of its size.

  • by jcochran (309950) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:53AM (#46603421)

    Oh lord, the Luddites are bad enough with "normal" genetically engineered foods. I hate to imagine the kind of outcry they're do for this.

    • I don't call cross-breeding spider DNA with corn DNA "normal".

      • I don't call cross-breeding spider DNA with corn DNA "normal".

        What do you have against web slinging crime fighting corn?

        Spider Corn, Spider Corn!
        Eat this stuff and your guts you'll mourn!

        (don't have time to finish the song, an unhappy WD Blue needs me... sorry)

      • Trust me, there is nothing we can do the corn genome that corn wouldn't do itself if it had the opportunity. Corn is weird.
        • by lgw (121541)

          Corn: it filters carbon by isotope, despite chemical equivalence. What can't corn do?

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Corn: it filters carbon by isotope, despite chemical equivalence. What can't corn do?

            Be a viable industry without massive federal agricultural subsidies?

            I'd like to see it do that.

      • Maybe large overgrown teosinte plants that can't even survive in the wild aren't normal and sea slugs with algae genes [wikipedia.org] are. Normal isn't always what you think.

    • I have some experience in the field of invasive, noxious weeds.
      My complaint is that Herr Doktor Frankenstein has chosen to perform his fiendish experiments with a creature so adept at aerosol migration and insinuation.
      Just sayin'.

    • by ProzacPatient (915544) on Friday March 28, 2014 @12:27PM (#46603731)

      (Yes I do realize that first link is The Onion but its funny because its basically true)

      I don't particularly have ill feelings toward genetic engineering, in fact I believe it can be a good thing, but what I do care about is the profiteering of it [theonion.com] that Monsanto has used to hold everyone hostage, though that is more of a symptom of the broken legal system than anything.

      Monsanto has achieved a monopoly status by using the legal system to patent their modifications and then they sell those patented GMO plants that are (supposedly) only immune to Monsanto pesticides and then they go around and sue everyone bankrupt for using unlicensed Monsanto technology because nature did its thing and cross pollinated with some nearby farmer's crops. Monsanto's exploitation of nature to achieve a monopoly is so bad that some countries have completely banned Monsanto and its products. At this point it surprises me Monsanto doesn't have a protection racket going on where you can buy a "subscription" to GMO products that might happen to pollinate with your old fashioned non-GMO plants.

      Oh and I'll just throw it out there that Monsanto were the ones who developed and peddled Agent Orange to the U.S. Government as a cure all for jungle warfare back in the day.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by lgw (121541)

        The only reason anyone cares about Monsanto IP is that the products are better (unless you have the luxury of organic). If the farmer didn't come out ahead by buying Monsanto seed, he wouldn't bother.

        But if Monsanto were as profitable as you seem to imagine, it would have several competitors each with it's own IP. Look at their finances: good by the standards of heavy industry, but terrible by the standards of an "IP company". Eh, they employ 20,000 people, and they do OK but not great. Not the evil ove

      • but what I do care about is the profiteering of it

        That would be a reasonable criticism, if it were at all true that Monsanto goes around suing people willy-nilly. They don't. That's a myth fabricated by the anti-GMO movement to discredit genetic engineering via guilt by association. There is not a single case, not one, of Monsanto suing a farmer for being cross pollinated. Every single time, they knew damned well that they were violating the law. What you are doing would be like looking at a guy selling bootleg copies of Frozen and declaring that Disn

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why is it when anyone brings up a criticism or a potential problem that technology may cause, they are labeled a "Luddite"?

      Technology is not always good (Hydrogen Bomb) and sometimes causes social problems that will cause quite a bit of adjustment and suffering (automation and the fact that other industries are not absorbing all the displaced workers as happened 175 years ago.)

      Going in half-cocked without planning for the possible ramifications causes more problems down the road and turns people off to the

  • Who will your decedents become?

  • This story could be the basis for the second remake of The Blob (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051418/ [imdb.com])!
  • by 3seas (184403) on Friday March 28, 2014 @12:20PM (#46603667) Journal

    Take a huge program and hey... lets change this little part and see what happens/

    • In a lot of ways, it is similar, but there are some important differences. The biggest one, I think, is that programs are (or had better be!) deterministic: make a particular change and a particular thing will happen every time. Living systems, even relatively simple ones like yeast cells, are stochastic: make a particular change and the probability of a particular thing happening increases or decreases. What you're counting on when growing a culture of mutated cells is that enough of the cells will be

      • by lgw (121541)

        Both code and yeast have deterministic underpinnings. But at scale both can only be modeled statistically. Sure, it's way easier to get a billion yeast cells than a billion customers, so you get there faster, but I'm working with software at the billion-user scale now and, well, we do a lot of statistics.

        Sure, specific bugs get identified and fixed and you hope the bug fix spreads fast (and you have some control over that), but the same is true with yeast mutations.

        • No, biological processes are inherently non-deterministic, and this becomes more apparent the smaller the scale. At the genetic level, it's all about probabilities. I suppose you could argue the same about computation since circuits are now getting small enough for quantum effects to show up, but I don't think most programmers are explicitly modeling random bit flips! On large scales, when you're talking about big programs with lots of different possible inputs, it's often more effective to model them st

    • by turp182 (1020263)

      The new code has to meet the required interface, so it's basically the Factory Pattern with biological and artificial implementations.

      Good analogy actually, I'm not sure what a good car analogy would be...

  • ...welcome our new genetically engineered super-yeast overlords. May they raise our bread to new heights - like 40 feet in the air maybe...
  • Is anyone else thinking this could lead to some interest new craft beers?

  • Well, not just THC or other cannibinoids. Antibiotics (that don't kill yeast, anyway). Other drugs. Gasoline. Biodiesel. Name your poison, find the gene sequence that can do it, splice it into yeast the way they are already doing it with so many other microorganisms (e.g. e. coli., chlorella, etc).

    But (as a beer maker) -- yeast that synthesizes THC directly into the wort as it works, no actual hemp plants needed, no expensive grow lights, no hidden greenhouse or plot in the middle of the woods, no need

  • To the person who commented that those who don't like GMO will freak out.

    Think about this.

    A modified yeast which creates an antibiotic or survives in higher alcohol concentrations or (insert your own scenario) escapes into the wild and displaces "normal" yeast. What then?

    This is great news but let's have a look at the risks.

  • Now life can be created in minutes.
    You can download YADA from sourceforge.net.
    The GUI interface allows you to drag an drop and build for example luminescent marijuana plant that also contain caffeine.

  • Tastes the future! Welcome to new synthetic flavours: Vin de Nylon, Vin de Phenolic, Cellulose Stout, Polyester Malt, Acrylic Vodka...
  • The original yeast had 50,000 copies of the chromosome which were discarded, replacing them with just a single copy of it because they were deemed irrelevant, and when the yeast remained alive it was called "hardy". IANA biochemist but still, one might think 50,000 copies could have an advantage as if cellular processes were to hit them randomly and transparently (like 50,000 disks in a RAID mirror where you don't know which physical disk was actually accessed) then a mutation in one copy would have 50,000

  • Now I can make this http://youtu.be/ebfLWAB8bY4 [youtu.be]

3500 Calories = 1 Food Pound

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