Using the labor of dozens of undergraduate students, scientists have built a customized yeast chromosome from scratch.
It's a milestone in the rapidly growing field of synthetic biology, where organisms can be tailored for industrial use. In this case, the near-term goal is to understand the genetics of yeast, and eventually the genetics of us.
This was quite an undertaking. Yeast have about 6,000 genes packed in 16 tidy bundles called chromosomes. Each chromosome is an enormous molecule of DNA packed in proteins.