30% of organism's genetic material swapped for engineered replacements
A global research team has built five new synthetic yeast chromosomes, meaning that 30 percent of a key organism's genetic material has now been swapped out for engineered replacements. This is one of several findings of a package of seven papers published March 10 as the cover story for Science.
Led by NYU Langone geneticist Jef Boeke, PhD, and a team of more than 200 authors, the publications are the latest from the Synthetic Yeast Project (Sc2.0). By the end of this year, this international consortium hopes to have designed and built synthetic versions of all 16 chromosomes -- the structures that contain DNA -- for the one-celled microorganism, Baker's yeast (S. cerevisiae).
- "This work sets the stage for completion of designer, synthetic genomes to address unmet needs in medicine and industry," says Boeke, director of NYU Langone's Institute for Systems Genetics.
- "Beyond any one application, the papers confirm that newly created systems and software can answer basic questions about the nature of genetic machinery by reprogramming chromosomes in living cells."
The world is churning out so much data that hard drives may not be able to keep up, leading researchers to look at DNA as a possible storage medium. DNA is ultra compact, and doesn’t degrade over time like cassettes and CDs. In a new study, Yaniv Erlich and Dina Zielinski demonstrate DNA’s full potential and reliability for storing data. The researchers wrote six files—a full computer operating system, a 1895 French film, an Amazon gift card, a computer virus, a Pioneer plaque, and a study by information theorist Claude Shannon—into 72,000 DNA strands, each 200 bases long. They then used sequencing technology to retrieve the data, and software to translate the genetic code back into binary. The files were recovered with no errors.ALSO,
Erlich thinks it could be more than a decade before DNA storage becomes accessible to the general public.
And even then, the technology might be reserved for things like recording patient data in medical systems, as opposed to being sold to consumers as the latest tech product.
"This is still the early stages of DNA storage. It's basic science," Erlich told Eva Botkin-Kowacki at The Christian Science Monitor.
"It's not that tomorrow you're going to go to Best Buy and get your DNA hard drive."
The findings are reported in Science.