Science gets closer to artificial life with first synthetic chromosome

Illustration for article titled Science gets closer to artificial life with first synthetic chromosome

Science, man. An international team of scientists have made a major breakthrough in synthetic biology. For the first time ever, they were able to insert a man-made, custom-built chromosome into brewer's yeast to not only create a life form but one that also passes down its man-made genes to its offspring. We're closer to creating artificial life.


Scientists have previously made chromosomes for bacteria and viruses but this is the first time they've been able to build a chromosome for something more complex. Called eukaryotic chromosomes, they have a nucleus and are found in plants, animals and humans.

The artificial chromosome, called synIII after the chromosome three in brewer's yeast it replaced, was stitched together via a computer by a team of scientists over a period of seven years. They basically redesigned the whole damn thing piece by piece. The scientist liken man-made chromosomes to the idea that you could shuffle genes into them like a deck of cards.


The yeast cells that contained the designer chromosomes behaved as normally as, well, normal yeast cells only that they could theoretically be improved and do things normal yeast cells could not. Potentially, scientists could create man-made versions of all the chromosomes in organisms thus creating artificial life. Science, man.

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You skipped the most important part of this! From the way Popular Science explained it, they also included a "genome shuffling trigger", where adding a certain chemical to the yeast would literally cause that chromosome to completely rearrange itself randomly. And as we all know, random mutations are the basis for evolution, so once they have a large population of synthetic yeast cells, they could quite literally trigger evolution at will. Even more importantly, the mutations would occur WITHIN each cell, meaning it's the very first time evolution could potentially occur within an individual rather than on the larger population scale.

Fucking science, man. We're doing cool new things every day.