Syn3.0, the minimal free-living organism with a 531 kb, 473-gene synthetic genome, recently designed and built at the J. Craig Venter Institute, inspired significant excitement and speculation within the biology community. The work itself represented a technical tour-de-force of DNA synthesis coupled with an impressively systematic, iterative design-and-build strategy that pared down the genetic content of Mycoplasma mycoses to the absolute smallest number of genes required to sustain robust growth.
For an organism with so few open-reading frames, the bespoke bacterium raises a surprising number of questions!
Will this new organism become a widely used Synthetic Biology platform, or will the community be better served by sticking with the more familiar and well-characterized workhorses E. coli and S. cerevisiae?
What can we learn about the requirements for life from Syn3.0?
Why in the world are 149 genes of unknown function essential to keep the thing replicating robustly?
Few have tilled the fertile field of inquiry of the potential implications for plant biotechnology. Fortunately, the green-mined individuals at Legume Laboratory recently wrote an insightful post exploring how Syn3.0 could contribute to the future of agriculture.
Read about how inserting synthetic genomes into plant cells offers tantalizing promise to increase food production, or alleviate devastation from drought at: