by Steven Burgess
The synthetic yeast (Sc 2.0) project aims to synthesize a yeast genome bottom-up. This is made possible by the sequence dependent nature of yeast centromeres, which are vital for proper partitioning of DNA during mitosis. Similar approaches are currently out of reach for plant scientists, as plant centromere formation is known to be determined epigenetically – meaning it it is not only dependent on sequence; both the knowledge and technology to produce an epigenetically determined centromere is currently lacking.
However, in addition to the normal set of chromosomes (karotype) shared by a species, some plants also possess accessory ‘B-chromosomes‘ , which are selfish genomic parasites that are unnecessary for survival. Instead of starting from scratch, plant scientists have targeted re-programming of B-chromosomes as a means for generating Plant Artificial Chromosomes (PACS). This technology has great potential for plant engineering and is covered in a recent blog post Legume Laboratory. For more information visit Plant Artificial Chromosomes – LEGUME LABORATORY