Saturday, 16 August 2014 21:43

Synthetic Yeast 2.0 - Building the world's first synthetic eukaryotic genome together

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Synthetic YeastThe Craig Venter Institute built a synthetic bacterial genome, and George Church, Farren Isaacs and colleagues have engineered the E. coli genome using an innovative platform called MAGE and genome synthesis methods. Now the focus is on the first eukaryote, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This organism has 16 linear chromosomes and a relatively compact (~14Mb total; ~12 Mb nonredundant) and well-understood genome. The synthetic yeast genome can be used to answer a wide variety of profound questions about fundamental properties of chromosomes, genome organization, gene content, function of RNA splicing, the extent to which small RNAs play a role in yeast biology, the distinction between prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and questions relating to genome structure and evolution. The availability of a fully synthetic genome will allow direct testing of evolutionary questions not otherwise approachable. The eventual “synthetic yeast” being designed and refined could eventually play an important practical role. Yeasts, and S. cerevisiae in particular, are preeminent organisms for industrial fermentations, with a wide variety of practical uses including ethanol production from agricultural products and by-products.

MacquarieMacquarie University (Sydney, Australia) with Sakkie Pretorius and the Australian Wine Research Institute has just become a member of the global Yeast 2.0 project led by Jef Boeke from New York University (you can see additional information on the project and the group here). As you may know, Jef’s group published the first synthetic chromosome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in Science earlier this year. A 272,871 base-pair synthetic version (Syn3) of the natural 316,617 bp Chromosome 3 was synthesised and used to replace the authentic Chromosome 3. This marks the first fully functional designer eukaryotic chromosome. A global consortium of research laboratories from six countries has now embarked on building the ultimate yeast genome by 2017.


Each participating lab takes responsibility for the design and construction of one or more of the 16 individual yeast chromosomes. In Australia, Macquarie University will be leading the synthesis of chromosomes 14 and 16. They are currently recruiting high-performing and motivated molecular biologists (preferably with a track record in yeast molecular genetics) early-career researchers for their SynBio projects.

Macquarie University has three continuing academic positions currently advertised, with an additional three fixed-term, post-doctoral positions being advertised in the very near future. One of the post-doctoral positions is open for applications with the other two soon to follow.

Read 3767 times Last modified on Saturday, 16 August 2014 22:56