The international project adds to work to create the first ever synthetic life form, by building a bacterium genome from scratch.
It will be the first time a genome has been built from scratch for a eukaryotic organism, the branch of the evolutionary tree that includes plants and animals.The notion is to make it more resistant to its own waste (ie, alcohol), presumably to aid industrial breweries in things like ever better high gravity brewing.
"Clearly there are strains of yeast that are highly resistant to alcohol, but they all die off as the alcohol gets higher, so making more alcohol resistant strains will be very useful for that industry in terms of cost value," [said Professor Paul Freemont, from the centre for synthetic biology and innovation at Imperial College London]It will inevitably be hugely controversial. Who's going to want to drink Frankenstein beer? But my sense is that the only real commercial purpose in trying this is efficient beer-making, which means it will be a part of an industrial process to create inoffensive mass-market lagers. I suppose there could be super-high-alcohol beers in the offing, too, but they're a novelty product at best.
Good, wholesome beer is a product of particular fermentation conditions, including a diverse array of yeast strains. If you like IPAs or saisons, I think there's no reason to fear.