Chinese researchers ‘create’ world’s first single-chromosome yeast

Researchers from China have claimed to have created the world’s first single-chromosome yeast while not affecting the majority of its functions. The researchers involved in the creation are molecular biologists from the Centre for Excellence in Molecular Plant Sciences in China. The research was published on the website of the journal – Nature on August 2, 2018.

Key Highlights:-

1. Brewer’s yeast, one-third of whose genome is said to share ancestry with humans, has 16 chromosomes.
2. The researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing to create a single-chromosome yeast strain.
3. However, Chinese scientists have managed to fit nearly all its genetic material into just one chromosome while not affecting the majority of its functions.
4. Using the CRISPR-Cas9, the research team removed the DNA at the telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that protect them from degrading.
5. They also snipped out the centromeres, sequences in the middle that are important to DNA replication.

Yeast is a type of eukaryote, which also includes humans, plants, and animals. The research revealed that the number of chromosomes of a eukaryote has no correlation to the amount of genetic information they possess. Humans have 46 chromosomes, whereas male jack jumper ants have just one. It showed that all the genetic information can be concentrated in just one chromosome. Researchers have previously fused two yeast chromosomes together but no one has ever performed such a type of extreme genetic surgery where all genetic material is fitted into just one chromosome.

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