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Top Story

Research team assembles 5 new synthetic yeast chromosomes

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. 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, known as S. cerevisiae. Like computer programmers, scientists add swaths of synthetic DNA to--or remove stretches from--human, plant, bacterial or yeast chromosomes in hopes of averting disease, manufacturing medicines or making food more nutritious. Baker’s yeast have long served as an important research model because their cells share many features with human cells, but are simpler and easier to study.

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