Friday, September 25, 2009

Super bugs

No, I'm not going to write about drug resistant TB and its friends. I'm talking about the microbes Craig Venter is going to make. He is talking about engineering microorganisms that can make biofuels from sunlight, air, and water.

I don't know too much about his plans, but I've written in the past that algal biofuels seem to be the only biofuel tech that makes sense on a large scale. Most other approaches compete with food production. I've heard that he is starting with marine algae so as to avoid conflict with fresh water needs.

I also know that Venter is not someone to bet against in this arena. As with sequencing the human genome, the science isn't in doubt here. The question is whether it will work at a useful scale. I hope he can do it and suspect he will. One of his moves (and this is no secret formula) is to use money to lure really smart and creative folks to his cause. He just hired a friend of mine away from our lab.

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