Craig Venter Synthetic Genomics
Synthetic Genomics was founded by Craig Venter in 2005, along with some other prominent scientists and investors. Venter is a pioneer in genome mapping and competed with the Human Genome Project in the race to sequence the entire human genetic code.
His current venture, Synthetic Genomics, aims to create artificial life in the lab to tackle environmental issues. The company is trying to produce biological sources of fuel, as well as developing new methods to clean up toxic waste.
The master plan is to build life forms from proteins, DNA, and chromosomes, and then stitch them together and jump start the entity into life. These synthetic microbes could be mini-factories pumping out sources of clean fuel. There have been some major milestones in the attempt to create synthetic life; in 2007 Venter and Synthetic Genomics reported that they had successfully moved an entire genome from one bacterium to another. It was a development that Venter claims can be used to test any artificial chromosomes that he makes. And in July 2009 Synthetic Genomics and ExxonMobil Research and Engineering signed a $600 million deal to develop biofuels from photosynthetic algae.
Photosynthetic algae use the energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into lipids and some long chain hydrocarbons. However, naturally occurring photosynthetic algae do not do this at commercially viable quantities or rates. So enter the scientists and their technologies to give nature a helping hand.
The immediate goals will be to;
- Identify or engineer superior strains
- Work out the most efficient systems for large-scale cultivation of algae and conversion of their products into biofuels.