Video: Scientists ‘resurrect’ the scent of extinct flower by piecing together its DNA

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A Ginkgo Bioworks fermentation engineer. Image credit: Ginkgo Bioworks

Using the tools of paleogenomics, scientists at Gingko Bioworks, a Boston-based synthetic biology company, have resurrected the smell of an extinct flower by reconstructing its DNA. The species of Hawaiian mountain hibiscus went extinct over a century ago. Fortunately, Harvard University researchers have preserved small specimens of the plant.

Gingko’s scientists used these to piece together the fragmented genes responsible for the hibiscus scent. They then transferred these genes into yeast, turning the organism into a perfume factory. Scientific American takes a closer look at the process of ‘resurrecting’ the scent of this long gone flower.


Original video: Resurrecting the Genes of Extinct Plants

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