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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 ProzacPatient (915544) on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:27AM (#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.

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Friday March 28, 2014 @11:35AM (#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.

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

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Friday March 28, 2014 @12:28PM (#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:Next goals: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2014 @01:04PM (#46604837)

    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 our own. I suppose its easy to come to the conclusion that its fear mongering, particularly when humans are so optimistic in their ignorance.

    1) Metabolize human flesh -- humans form a biosphere that supports trillions of microorganism. There are numerous vectors that may be researched and used. Flesh eating microorganisms are known.

    2) Able to more easily spread via airborne routes -- already organisms able to spread via airborne routes. The air you breath is full of spores and other genetic material like viruses.

    3) Increase growth exponent -- Many microorganisms already grow exponentially if their isn't rate limiting resources.

    4) Secrete nerve gas -- I am unsure if their is a metabolic pathway for the synthesis of nerve gas, but their are many neurotoxins with known metabolic pathways that can be used.

    5) Infinite life span -- we currently believe their are some species that don't die from natural causes.

    I don't think its a matter of these organisms accidentally escaping...at least I hope nobody is stupid enough to fund this type of research. But rather, a deliberate design of a bioweapon. Technology can be used for the benefit of mankind or its destruction, just depends on how we want to use it. Biotech is no different and it is clearly evident that the attributes of one organisms can be engineered in others given the appropriate conditions.

    Technology tends to magnify the actions of 1 individual or organization -- Just look at botnets, sandy hook, 9/11, etc. Other civilizations didn't have worry about the concept of mass shootings because gun technology hadn't been developed. When biotech becomes sufficiently sophisticated and the infrastructure is in place, the actions of a few can totally have an impact on our globalized society. International airports could facilitate a pandemic -- a legitimate fear engineering aside.

    Biotech shouldn't be underestimated, particularly when we are biology. Look at the biosphere around you, the complexity of the molecules and diversity of species. It is a reality.

    --a published bioengineer

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday March 28, 2014 @01:38PM (#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.

  • Re:This is unholy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Friday March 28, 2014 @02:42PM (#46605601)

    It's not a perfect analogy, but German and Belgian beers are a good example of what you can do with narrow and open views on ingredients, respectively. The Germans were limited by the Reinheitsgebot to what they could use in their beers, and they produce a relatively narrow range of lagers which are, in my opinion, unspectacular. In contrast, the Belgians use a much wider range of ingredients and adjuncts. They produce what are widely considered some of the finest beers in the world, and they have a much wider range of styles.

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