Sequencing the Genome of . . . NYC air?
Craig Venter is at it again! First, he pioneered shotgun sequencing. Then he went and sequenced a bunch of organisms (e.g., humans, Drosophila melanogaster, both the malaria parasite and its mosquito vector). Now he's going around the world on his yacht sequencing DNA from random organisms in the oceans. While he's at it, he's proposing sequencing DNA from organisms in New York City's air (subscription required).
In a pilot project scheduled to be officially announced today, a team from Dr. Venter's nonprofit organization, the J. Craig Venter Institute, is using a filtering device to take air samples from atop the roof of a 40-story office building in the most congested part of Midtown.
While much is known about various pollutants, only a tiny percentage - about 1 percent - of the micro-organisms in the air can be identified by traditional methods involving growing cultures. The new process is intended to provide as intimate a picture of the air as the genome mapping provided of the human body.
The genetic information could then be used to create a comprehensive background image of New York's air. In turn, that would make it easier to identify any dangerous new organisms that come from an act of bioterrorism.
I don't have much to say about this. It's just crazy. Not crazy bad. It just makes you wonder what he's gonna sequence next.