December 20, 2015

"Yeasts win fungus of the year every year, at least from the human point of view—wine, bread, and beer insure that."

"But 2015 was the year of designer yeast. Yeasts normally consume sugar and excrete carbon dioxide and alcohols, but new gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR have made it much easier and faster to insert strands of functional DNA from other organisms into the yeast genome, transforming its metabolism. The result is a cell-size factory that can pump out anything from flavorings to pharmaceuticals. This year, yeasts capable of producing spider silk, morphine, and palm oil all made their débuts—early signs, perhaps, of a transition from an economy based on agriculture and hydrocarbon chemistry to one run on fungi."

From "The Year in Fungi" in The New Yorker.

14 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

Note: I know yeast is not mushrooms. I just don't like to create new tags. Sometimes I let an existing tag take in some extra things that a more general version of the original tag would have encompassed. For example, for a long time I had a tag for "The Apprentice" that I used as my Donald Trump tag. It took a lot of inappropriate uses of the "Apprentice" tag before I gave in and made a "Donald Trump" tag. Now, I can see that yeast is huge. It's very important. I love yeast. But I just don't have the occasion to write about yeast that often. And yet, maybe it's about to rule the world.

rehajm said...

Yeast infections still suck, though.

oleh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
oleh said...

One of the scariest apocalypse short stories I read last year involved a gene engineered bread mold eating all living things. From the POV of an OCD laboratory administrator.

Fungi can be incredibly efficient.

Gahrie said...

Solyent Green is coming

The Cracker Emcee said...

Oleh,
Title and author, homes!

Roger Sweeny said...

OMG! Frankenyeast!

Michael K said...

Craig Venter is going far beyond yeast genetic engineering.

The Golden Rice project shows what can be done.

The possibilities are endless.

chuck said...

We're all ants now.

Charlie Currie said...

Yeast can also prevent you from getting drunk...

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/a18609/how-not-to-get-drunk/

oleh said...

The anthology is titled "The End Is Nigh". Will check on the story title when I have a moment with my Kindle. The anthology is very hit and miss, but if you like end of the world stories it's passable. Though "Wastelands 2" was far superior.

oleh said...

I should add "The End is Nigh" is one of a trilogy, and each short story continues through all books. A clever way to sell multiple anthologies I suppose. Unfortunately there are only two stories in there that carry their weight through all three books - with the fungus one being one.

traditionalguy said...

I'd take slime mold and the points in a match.

veni vidi vici said...

They "insure" it? Not "ensure"? Whatever happened to editing?