Researchers Assemble Five 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. This is one of several findings of a package of seven papers published March 10 as the cover story for Science.

Led by NYU Langone geneticist Jef Boeke, PhD, and a team of more than 200 authors, the publications are the latest from the Synthetic Yeast Project (Sc2.0). 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. Rest