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Building yeast genomes from scratch

NSF Award:

Synthesis and Restructuring of a Yeast Chromosome  (Johns Hopkins University)

SAVI: Yeast Chromosome (Sc2.0) Synthesis and Analysis  (Johns Hopkins University)

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An international team of NSF-funded scientists has created a synthetic yeast chromosome from long strings of DNA. In an effort to understand the genetics of yeast, and eventually the genetics of humans, Johns Hopkins University researchers Jef Boeke, Joel Bader and Srinivasan Chandrasegaran collaborated with partners in China and across the globe to build the entire chromosome from scratch.

Humans have chromosomes similar to yeast, so reconstructing the entire yeast genome may allow the researchers to address questions related to processes such as genome organization and evolution. The ability to build customized yeast genomes will be useful for industrial applications such as designing microorganisms to produce novel medicines, raw materials for food and biofuels.

The researchers' initial success with rebuilding a functioning yeast chromosome bolstered their efforts to synthesize the entire functioning yeast genome. The massive effort to reconstruct the entire yeast genome is being aided by undergraduate students enrolled in the Build-a-Genome project, founded by Boeke.  The students piece together short snippets of synthetic DNA to make into long strings of DNA, which are swapped for native yeast DNA. Build-a-Genome has helped lay some of the groundwork for Synthetic Yeast 2.0, an international effort in which academic researchers have partnered with collaborators at universities in China, Australia, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. to reconstruct the entire yeast genome.


  • dry yeast
Scientists are constructing a functioning yeast genome.
Wikimedia Commons

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