Imagine a future where there is no need to cut down a tree and and reshape that raw material into a chair or table. Instead, we could grow our furniture by custom-engineering moss or mushrooms. Perhaps glowing bacteria will light our cities, and we’ll be able to bring back extinct species, or wipe out Lyme disease—or…
Last month, a group of scientists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs gathered in secret to discuss the possibility of creating a synthetic human genome from scratch. Details of the plan have finally been made public, and it’s as ambitious as it sounds. But critics say they founders of the new project are avoiding the tough…
Behold syn3.0, a synthetic bacterial genome that’s smaller than anything found in nature. Biologists hope it will further our understanding of the fundamentals of life and inspire the creation of new synthetic life.
Bioengineering is pervasive these days–just look at your medicine, your makeup, or your food–but the science behind it is still pretty inaccessible to tinkerers. Enter Amino: A small bioengineering lab that will walk you through the process of creating everything from glow-in-the-dark cells to an anti-cancer research…
The emerging discipline of synthetic biology is poised to change many aspects of our lives, from the production of medicines and bio-fuels through to genetic engineering and the development of completely new biological systems. It’s a technologically daunting prospect, but this video from Grist uses Legos and…
Rhino horn is more precious than gold on the black market, and our insatiable demand for the stuff has driven rhinos to the brink of extinction. Now a Seattle-based startup has a radical plan to save these incredible animals: Using synthetic biology to manufacture rhino horns in the lab.
In the twentieth century, oil was black gold. But as we march deeper into the twenty-first century, we could have a lucrative new fuel on our hands. One that’s blue-green and sometimes a little smelly. It’s found in wastewater, but it’s capable of powering jets. It’s algae.
Twenty five years ago, Michael Crichton captured our imaginations with the crazy idea that scientists might one day resurrect dinosaurs. But on the eve of Jurassic World’s release a quarter century later, the prospect of bringing back extinct creatures is looking a lot less science fictional.
Yeast labs have a distinctive smell—a bready scent familiar to bakers and brewers. But the frozen test tube of yeast I held at Ginkgo Bioworks had a fragrance crisp and pear-like. It was definitely yeast, but it had been genetically engineered to smell like no yeast has ever smelled.
Breakthroughs in synthetic biology have suggested a bizarre and realistic possibility for the future of black market drug trade. Genetically-altered yeast could be used to make opiates for hospitals seeking a source of the painkillers — and then appropriated by drug dealers who want to homebrew heroin.
The fear of genetically-modified creatures escaping from the lab is the basis for a thousand sci-fi stories, but it’s also a legitimate concern. That’s why genetic engineers are inventing kill switches, or genetically-encoded suicide triggers, for GMOs they want to keep contained. Here’s how they work.
We love to imagine how biotechnology might one day enhance our fleshy bodies, but too often, Earth’s wildlife are left out of the future entirely. Enter Kathryn Fleming’s future zoo, filled with a menagerie of fantastical, slightly disturbing, genetically modified mutants.
A rose is a rose is a rose, except when it’s actually a yeast. A company called Ginkgo BioWorks in Boston is partnering with French fragrance company Robertet to create a genetically-modified yeast that makes the rose oil used in perfumes.
It's probably true that every generation thinks it'll be the last—I mean, the Doomsday Clock has been ticking since 1947. And though I accused us millennials earlier today of being the "generation that cried apocalypse," I fully admit there are some damn legit reasons for that cry currently brewing.
What happens when amateur scientists doing synthetic biology as DiY projects, building new organisms and modifying old ones? A group of scientists raised the alarm about the risks of backyard synbio in Nature recently, and it's the topic of a lively discussion on the Guardian's Science Weekly podcast. Check it out!
The advent of synthetic biology and DNA synthesis has raised concern that amateurs will use these technologies to turn pathogens into weapons of mass destruction. But as experts point out, this may be far easier said than done.
The powerful painkiller morphine comes from opium poppies, which only grow in a few places around the world. But now, a group of bioengineers are on the cusp of creating a modified form of baker's yeast that can synthesize the drug. What happens when we can brew up heroin in a vat of yeast?
E. coli is an exceedingly common bacteria that lives in many places including your very own gut. It's also a favorite organism for synthetic biologists looking to engineer useful microbes. By inserting just a few genes in E. coli, scientists have found they can coax the bacterium into making ready-to-use propane.
Ever since humans first noticed the mind-altering effects of poppies, we've planted vast fields of the flowers to make drugs that range from the legal (morphine) to the illegal (heroin). Some of our strongest legitimate painkillers still originate in these large, unwieldy, and pesky-to-regulate poppy fields. But what…
The cup above may look like just an empty container, but it's actually much more.