Space Manufacturing 14/Synthetic Bio Conf. – Craig Venter talk

Craig Venter is giving a special presentation as part of a joint session with the Synthetic Bio Conference that is also taking place today at Ames.

Pete Worden gives an intro.

Dr. Craig Venter, J. Craig Venter Institute _Synthetic Genomics?_ /– Very exciting to design organisms for space applications /– Reviews big questions about life /— What is life? Can we digitize it? How Extensive is it?, etc. /– Create of a bacteriial cell controlled by a chemically synthesized genome /– Converting the genectic code into digital code /– Human genome sequencing /– Diploid sequence for an individual (Venter’s) /– 44% genes > 1 heterozygous variant /– Can now sequence a human genome in 1 or 2 days with half million dollar machine /– Humans are born without microrganism but quickly acquire them /– Don’t really understand what these thousands of microorganism do /– Each involves billions of base pairs /– Human microbiome and immunity /– Esophageal cancers has been fastest growing cancer in the US. Environmental issue. Microbes might be involved. /– 450-550 chemicals in blood plasma /— Approximately 60% human, 30% diet, 10% bacterial /– A synthetic Metabiome? /– Replace thousands of microbes on and in humans preparing for long space flight /— eliminate disease organisms – eliminates future infections and dental decay /— eliminte metanogens /— etc. /– Microbes make up over 1/2 of the earth’s biomass /– Microbes in deep in earth has less genomic diversity, perhaps due to less radiation /– Transposons – pieces of DNA that move around and “transpose” themselves to a new spot on the genome. /– Software that builds its own hardware /– Transplanation of whole chromosome – Changing one species to another /– Insert a new chromosome that creates restrictions enzymes that chew up the old chromosome /– Put in small pieces of genome and they are assembled /– Successful cloning of bacterial genomes in yeast /– Transplants from bacteria worked but not from methane. /– Methylation of the incoming DNA is critical /– Couldn’t create a living cell though till found a single pair error in the genome. /– Began adding watermark to genome – includes web address, names of scientists involved, etc. /– Synthetic genomics – 40 million genes discovered to date /– Synthetic Organism Designer – design a future organism /– Combinatorial genomics /– Genes can be rapidly screened via cassette based construction of thousands to millions of genomes/day /– Exxon investing $600M in partnership with Synthetic Genomics to make fuel from algae /– 10 years to get to large scale to produce significant amounts of such fuel. /– Looking at producing food for manned spaceflight /– Possible in next few years to engineer cells to produce many useful materials /– Reverse vaccinology – from genome sequence to vaccine candidates /– Rapidly produce an influenza vaccine for new strain /– Ethical considerations are examined before projects undertaken. /— Biosecurity and biosafety issues also examined /– Economic and industrial potential is enormous /– For the future of human spaceflight: /— identify genetic risk for disease /— New approach to microbe design for food, water and renewable fuel production and for recycling. /— several others on dense chart…

Q&A /– Quite difficult to deliberately produce a pathogen. /– Currently insure that the organisms cannot grow outside of lab. /– Rate of applications for space or something else depends a lot on the funding available. /– Can’t think of an organization that could do more with artificial organisms than NASA


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