Tuesday, May 3, 2011

IB Biology on Genetics, Biofuels and Synthetic Cells

IB Biology on Genetics, BioFuel and Synthetics Cells.


Brief History.
Human Genome Project (1989 to 2001) cost about $3 billion dollars funded project by many countries. A scientific research  project with a primary goal of determining the sequence of chemical base pairs which make up DNA and to identify and map the approximately 20,000–25,000 genes in the human genome.

  • 1st Bacterium Genome Sequenced ( Haemophilus influenza ) sequenced in 1995
  • Human Genome was complete in April 2003
  • Took 13 years to complete the list shown below.



In 1998, a similar, privately funded quest was launched by the American researcher Craig Venter, and his firm Celera Genomics. Venter was a scientist at the NIH during the early 1990s when the project was initiated. The $300,000,000 Celera effort was intended to proceed at a faster pace and at a fraction of the cost of the roughly $3 billion publicly funded project.( Wiki )
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The speed of Genomic Sequencing in the Future

  • 1988-2001......13 years to sequence the genome
  • 2007...............2 months to sequence human genome
  • 2013 ............. 3 mins to sequence human genome

pictures taken from
http://2020science.org/2009/06/01/nanoscale-control-leveraging-biology/

Human Genome Project to Minimal Genome Project  to Synthetic Cell
Minimal Genome Project, how many genes  are needed to support an organism. Smallest genome is selected  from a bacteria called Mycoplasma with 482 genes. Remove and reduced the genes to 382. Synthesise the 382 genes into an artificial chromosome and transplanted into Mycoplasma (Bacteria)
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May 2010 First Synthetic Cell created
Using computer code of ACGT and with an DNA sequencer, the genome of a bacterium called Mycoplasma mycoides was synthesised. Transplanting the synthetic genome  into Mycoplasma Capricolum. The synthetic genome took over the cell and a synthetic cell was produced.


From Science2020
Craig Venter's team synthesized the genome of – Mycobacterium genitalium – from scratch.  The team has yet to insert the Synthesized DNA into a cell, and thus achieve – in effect – the creation of life form laboratory chemicals.  
Read more:
 http://2020science.org/2009/06/01/nanoscale-control-leveraging-biology/#ixzz1L6ZSLJfw


Video on the World First Synthetic Cell on May 2010


Click HERE to get in
Dr. Venter calls the result a “synthetic cell” and is presenting the research as a landmark achievement that will open the way to creating useful microbes from scratch to make products like vaccines and biofuels. (4th generation biofuel)


Solving World Energy Crisis with Biofuels
1st generation BioFuels

  • Biofuel producing (ethanol) alcohol due to fermentation of corn sugar, cane or any fermentable sugar by yeast.
  • Starch to Sugar to Ethanol ( Yeast Fermentation )

Has a lot of limitation and is not viable for mass production because
  • growing corn to be used as biofuel consume a lot of energy
  • 1 gallon of fossil fuel is used to produce 1.3 gallon of ethanol
  • raise the price of corn as it is used now for biofuel production and not as food
  • land, fertiliser and transportation cost is too high and all these consume energy(gasoline)
2nd generation Biofuels
From lignocellulosic crops consist of  ligninhemicellulose and cellulose ( Complex Carbohydrates which cannot be broken down by enzymes) . Materials which  are non digestable food and are usually thrown away. ( Cellulose, Pulp, Grass, woodchips and non starch materials ). Need to use special enzymes/chemicals to digest them into sugar.

Cellulosic ethanol is made by freeing the sugar molecules from cellulose using enzymes, steam heating, or other chemical treatment like acids to digest them down to fermentable sugars. 
Cellulose, Pulp, Lignin to Simple Sugar to Ethanol ( Fermentation )
Video on BioFuels (Green Energy)


3rd generation Biofuels
From algae, as it grow fast and is very versatile, grows in fresh water/sea water and does not take up land space. Limitation is its oil is difficult to extract.
Feed CO2 to algae and it converts CO2 to sugar and hydrocarbon chain which is extracted to obtain oil
picture from
http://scienceblogcarles.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/new-biodiesel/
Video, 3rd Generation Biofuels using algae to replace fossil fuel

4th generation Biofuels using Synthetic Cells

ExxonMobil and Venter to create Biofuel of the future

15 July 2009 
Oil giant ExxonMobil entered the biofuel race and signed up biotechnology company Synthetic Genomics (SGI) to help produce next generation biofuels from photosynthetic algae.$600 million (£364 million) partnership with the biotech firm started by Venter. With more than 30,000 known species of algae, finding the most suitable strain is not an easy task. Find the right algae strain will be a challenge as it needs to be able to
  • grow fast and able to withstand extreme condition
  • produce high lipid/oil  yield
  • extract/ secrete the oil out easily as lipid extraction process from algae is too expensive 
 Video on Synthetic Cell to Save the World

With Synthetic Cell we can create genome with selected genes and  insert into a bacteria to produce the desired bacteria of interest


We can create life now ..................................
We can design life now...................................
We can destroy life now.................................
We can play God now.....................................
We are the only species who has the ability to save and destroy ourselves now.....................


IB Design 3 Expt next year on fermentation of yeast, algae production/growth and carbon dioxide capture method to solve our world's problems.

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