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Biotech Science Technology

Do It Yourself Biology Research, Past and Present 108

Harperdog writes "Laura Kahn has a great article about the long and fascinating history of do-it-yourself research, from Darwin and Mendel to present day. From the article: 'Welcome to the new millennium of do-it-yourself (DIY) biology. Advances in technology in the twenty-first century have enabled anybody, with the desire and the disposable income, to build rather sophisticated laboratories in their own homes. Entire communities have even materialized to promote these efforts -- like the thousands of amateur biologists who contribute to, a website "dedicated to making biology an accessible pursuit for citizen scientists, amateur biologists and biological engineers."'"
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Do It Yourself Biology Research, Past and Present

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  • Re:Materials (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 18, 2012 @02:10PM (#40361645)

    For instance, how does one purify dNTPs [] at home?

    Promega is over-priced, but dNTPs aren't a high-use item anyway.

  • by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Monday June 18, 2012 @03:52PM (#40362899)

    That is a good idea, but one thing I'd add is trying under cultivated species. There are a lot of plants that represent potentially significant agricultural species, but often there has been limited work on these plants. There is little funding for these things in major private or university programs because there isn't much consumer demand for them, and of course without superior varieties you might not be able to create demand, so you won't be able to justify programs on them, and its a nasty circle. Your examples would be pretty tough because there are already people working on them so an individual's contributions will be relatively smaller, and in some cases the problems themselves are pretty tough. Citrus greening for example IIRC has no known natural sources of resistance, so its pretty hard to breed in something not found in the family.

    So, if you get some land, I'd suggest trying to breed undercultivated fruit like Japanese raisin tree, goumi, honeyberry, maypop, mulberry, ect., and if you live in a tropical spot you've got lots more options (or course, breeding fruit takes lots of room and thousands of plants and takes a long time so this would be a long term project) or undercultivated vegetables like yacón, jícama , kutjera, salicornia, New Zealand spinach (which is actually not a spinach and is more closely related to living stone plants), or undercultivated grains like quinoa, teff, and Job's tears, just to name a few of varying degrees of cultivation and existing improvement work. Even 'weeds' like spurge nettle are edible. [] There is a lot of potential, both in terms of agricultural benefit and culinary value, but since there is so little work being done on these types of things, perhaps crowd-sourced breeding is the best option for the advancement of biodiversity. I'd love to do this myself if I had the land.

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