In a major breakthrough, scientists have successfully developed the first ever man-made chromosome for a complex-celled organism.
Experts consider the major invention as a big step towards acquiring the controversial ability to redesign plants or animals.
For the research, scientists inserted a synthetic chromosome into a brewer’s yeast cell which functioned as normal.
Jef Boeke, director of the New York University’s Institute for Systems Genetics, said, “Our research moves the needle in synthetic biology from theory to reality.”
The researchers successfully decoded one of yeast’s 16 chromosomes and then used a software to make changes, like removing repetitive and less-used regions, from it.
They then built a synthetic version of this altered chromosome from scratch, stringing together individual nucleotides — the chemical building blocks of the genes that make up chromosomes, which in turn comprise the genome.
“It is the most extensively altered chromosome ever built. We have made over 50,000 changes to the DNA code in the chromosome and our yeast is still alive. That is remarkable,” said Boeke.
Yeast is a closely-studied representative of the group of eukaryotes. These organisms have complex cells that contain a nucleus and other structures enclosed within membranes. Notably, all plants and animals, including humans, have eukaryotic cells.
The research was published in the journal Science.