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Can Synthetic Biology Brew Better Beer?



Brewing beer at home can be incredibly difficult, as dealing with fickle yeasts and proteins can often result in a skunky, cloudy and unappetizing brew. James Collins, a Boston University synthetic biologist, and a team of researchers investigating synthetically engineered genetic circuits, used beer as a model for developing refining processes that could eventually be applied to biofuels and therapeutic drugs.

The field of synthetic biology focuses on the creation and assembly of biological components like DNA. While we may not fully understand the terminology and the processes involved, we do know that Collins has used the technology to brew beer. Really good beer. Using a computer model, Collins created a genetic network through which they could control yeast flocculation, a process which determines the thickness and color of beer, and occurs after sugar has fermented during the brewing process. In layman's terms, they can create specific beers for discriminating palates, precisely controlling the brew's color and acidity, without the normally required use of chemical additives.

Using the process, beer makers could conceivably brew more efficiently with fewer costs, and without wasted batches. We love the idea of this RoboBeer, but they'd better not start toying around with PBR. You don't mess with perfection. It should be fascinating to watch future developments in this field, but, for now, we'd be happy volunteering for the beer study, preferably as quality control technicians. [From: Technology Review]

Tags: alcohol, beer, brewing-beer, drink, drink tech, DrinkTech, food, food and drink, FoodAndDrink, future tech, FutureTech, genetic circuits, GeneticCircuits, research, synthetic engineering, SyntheticEngineering, top

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