Biotech Updates

World's First Synthetic Yeast Near Completion

November 15, 2023

A team of scientists from the United Kingdom led by experts from the University of Nottingham and Imperial College London have constructed a synthetic chromosome as part of a major international project to build the world's first synthetic yeast genome.

The work of the UK team is the completion of one of the 16 chromosomes of the yeast genome, which is part of the biggest project ever in synthetic biology; the international synthetic yeast genome collaboration known as 'Sc2.0'. The collaboration is a 15-year project involving teams from the UK, US, China, Singapore, France, and Australia. The team is working together to make synthetic versions of all of the chromosomes in yeast. The UK-based team's chromosome, synthetic chromosome XI is now completed. This work has been published in Cell Genomics, but nine more publications were also released from other teams describing their synthetic chromosomes. The final completion of the genome project - the largest synthetic genome ever - is expected next year.

The synthetic chromosome has replaced one of the natural chromosomes of a yeast cell and, after a painstaking debugging process, now allows the cell to grow with the same fitness level as a natural cell. The synthetic genome will not only help scientists to understand how genomes function, but it will have many applications. Rather than being a straight copy of the natural genome, the Sc2.0 synthetic genome has been designed with new features that give cells novel abilities not found in nature.

For more details, read the press release from the University of Nottingham.

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