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[GreenYes] new synthesis synthetic biology



A new synthesis
One of the leading proponents of this method is Jay Keasling, of the
University of California, Berkeley, who also believes that synthetic biology will
ultimately need standard, well-characterised parts if it is to thrive. ,,,,
Dr Keasling's project is to do biologically what no chemist has yet managed
to accomplishâto synthesise an antimalarial drug called artemisinin
cheaply.........
Dr Keasling's project is not the only one to lay down artificial metabolic
pathways. One goal of synthetic biology is to make what is known as cellulosic
ethanol. At the moment, ethanolâwhether for wine, beer or fuelâis made by
fermenting sugar or starch. But even in crops such as sugar cane and maize, (
and MSW) which have been bred for their high yields, a lot of the plant is
wasted. Although yeast cannot digest cellulose or lignin, the molecules that
form a plant's skeleton, some bacteria and other species of fungi are able to do
the job. Identifying the genes for the enzymes that do this, modifying them
and assembling them into new pathways would produce systems that could digest
the whole plant and turn it into ethanol. Nancy Ho, of Purdue University, in
Indiana, has already worked out a way to enable yeast cells to ferment the
sugars produced by breaking down celluloseâwhich natural yeast cannot do.
This is important stuff. Cellulosic ethanol is the great hope of many
environmentalists since its carbon, unlike that in fossil fuels, comes from the
atmosphere and thus cannot make a net contribution to global warming when it
returns there............
There is potentially some really serious money and BTU's in waste.
Especially if you do not inefficiently burn it.

leonard e. wheeler jr



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