Open Source Biotech

11 Feb ’05

Wired reports on what might be the "first practical offering" of open source biology.

A paper appearing in this week’s edition of Nature is
antiseptically entitled: "Gene transfer to plants by diverse species of
bacteria." But the information that lies within may herald a revolution
in biology.

The paper describes two new technologies: TransBacter, a method for transferring genes to plants, and GUSPlus, a method of visualizing where the genes are and what they do. Behind the research, which was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation,
is a team of scientists who want to provide the technologies as a
"kernel," modeled on the Linux movement, as the beginning of perhaps
the first practical offering in open-source biology.

Researchers who want to develop technologies based on this kernel can
use it as they wish if they agree to a flexible license issued by Biological Innovation for Open Society, or BIOS. The initiative is being spearheaded by Richard Jefferson, also founder of Cambia, an agricultural life science institute in Canberra, Australia.

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