Synthetic biology boffins at Berkeley have taken their research to new highs by rigging up yeast so it produces cannabis compounds – not beer. The group, led by Jay Keasling at the University of California, Berkeley, tweaked brewers' yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, so it makes both the mind-altering and vanilla – er, we mean …
I'll be honest. The first thing that went through my mind as I was reading the article, was the extra dimension this yeast would bring to my humble home brew operation.
Note: I do already have a recipe for a Gunja Beer, but seeing as it calls for 1kg of greenery for just a 20 litre batch, I'm hoping the cost if this yeast would be a far cheaper option.
The article states that both the psychoactive substances are synthesised as the respective carboxylic acid precursors. They need roasting to become the active stuff (with carbon dioxide leaving), so bread is a relevant vehicle for the oral enjoyment. IIRC the temperature for decomposing the precursors is somewhere around 130 degrees Celcius. Activating the substances in beer requires a very strong autoclave, and you mustn't filter away the yeast.
Anyway, the yields are low. It's probably cheaper and quicker to use imported products from third-world agriculture - if the channels remain open. Commercially I don't think it has much of a chance - except in the UK after the no-deal Brexit.
If you steam cooked bread fully at 130 in an industrial autoclave you wouldn't suffer from a soggy bottom ... however you'd probably need the services of a dentist to eat it ...
Mary Berry's new "Crunchy Seeds and THC Bread" recipe ... somehow I think she'd appreciate that :-)
I can't be the only one who has suspected this would happen for some time - the progression of genetic science has more or less obeyed Moore's law. That's not to diminish the fine work of these researchers who have encountered hurdles and overcome them.
Yeast being yeast, it's hard to see how this can be put to use at scale without the lab assistant or cleaner accidently on purpose taking some spores home with them.
What is scary is imagining the day when an off the shelf tabletop machine lets a mediocre and ill intentioned individual take the genes from a high mortality virus and put them into a highly contagious air born virus.
There are ways to make sure GM microbes can't survive out of the lab. I guess they could evolve their way out of it in theory, but in practice you can arrange things so that it's extremely unlikely.
Even if that happened, out of the lab the THC yeast would be competing with wild-type yeast, and I'm pretty sure the wild-type yeast would win easily. If metabolising sugar into THC instead of alcohol was practical for survival, some wild-type microbe would be doing it already.
I agree, however, that we should be scared at the idea of someone whipping up something extremely dangerous on purpose. That's only going to become easier and there's not much anyone can do about it.
"What is scary is imagining the day when an off the shelf tabletop machine lets a mediocre and ill intentioned individual take the genes from a high mortality virus and put them into a highly contagious air born virus."
My understanding is that once a virus mutates to become more virulent, it also becomes less contagious.
Given the current state of climate breakdown and the ongoing mass extinction event, I think we'll have wiped ourselves out before such easy virus weaponising becomes an issue.
"My understanding is that once a virus mutates to become more virulent, it also becomes less contagious." - evolution doesn't care about the effects, it's unthinking. Something could mutate to kill 100% of its target, thereby killing itself, and not "care".
A highly virulent virus (as in the case of HIV) can become less virulent over time, as by killing fewer of its targets it succeeds in spreading further (not necessarily by being more contagious, just by the host living for longer, so has more chance of spreading the disease).
Yes, why not get it from one of the places it grows naturally without needing any input at all?
"Well, I may be crazy, but I think not.
I'd swear to God that I smell pot.
But who'd have pot in Vietnam?
He said, "What do you think you're sittin' on?"
These funny little plants, thousands of them.
Good God Almighty... Pastures of Plenty!"
-- Tom Paxton, Talking Vietnam Pot Luck blues
"Growing marijuana is also an incredibly intensive, expensive and environmentally unfriendly process that needs lots of heat, light and water."
only for smelly. normal green can grow outside. ask the park rangers in america who are continaully destroying guerilla grows..
Re: "Growing marijuana is also an incredibly intensive, expensive and environmentally unfriendly process that needs lots of heat, light and water."
Couldn't the same be said about growing tomatoes? I'm genuinely curious here - where's the intensive, expensive. and environmental unfriendliness part?
There are weekly "busts" from the UK plod coming across a few plants in a woods and calling it a "forest".
given hemp is probably the most perfect way to break up clay soil, fix nitrogen in soil and provide compost for soil (it's an annual so once grown would need reseeding) the lack of initiatives towards natural farming with hemp leaves me deeply cynical about "organic farming". I suspect the most organic thing is the price tag.
"That means academics are on the lookout for cheap, pure sources of the cannabinoids."
If they want the good s--t, they just need to go off campus. What you're looking for is usually behind frat row. Short haircut, souped up Honda product with really nice rims.
Do not under any circumstances do business with a guy in an American car. No matter how chill he looks, he's a cop.
Now for good crank, you gotta stay on campus and go to...
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019