Painting by Numbers, With Genetically Modified Yeast

The New York Times
August 3, 2015


This is no Seu­rat. It’s not an Andy Warhol. And it’s not your grand­moth­er’s cross-stitch, either. Sci­en­tists at NYU Lan­gone Med­ical Cen­ter have genet­i­cal­ly altered basic yeast and cre­at­ed these images in liv­ing col­or. This is a live yeast por­trait of Gre­gor Mendel, far right, the ulti­mate nod to the father of mod­ern genetics.

For cen­turies, humans have played around with yeast. In ancient days, we domes­ti­cat­ed it to make beer and bread. This art­work is just a way to visu­al­ize the next fron­tier of yeast manipulation.

A few years ago, the geneti­cist Dr. Jef Boeke and his lab­o­ra­to­ry at NYU got togeth­er with researchers world­wide to syn­thet­i­cal­ly recre­ate the 16-chro­mo­some genome of brewer’s yeast. The goal of the effort, calledSyn­thet­ic Yeast 2.0, is to bet­ter under­stand “the com­pli­cat­ed web of genet­ic inter­ac­tions that under­lie all bio­log­i­cal process­es,” Dr. Boeke said.

To read the full arti­cle, vis­it The New York Times.