Science fiction blog io9 is hosting a Mad Science Contest for researchers to design their own lifeform. "Building new lifeforms is the science of the future and therefore you can never have too many garage laboratories and mad scientists devoted to it," writes Annalee Newitz at io9. The winners get an all-expenses-paid trip to Hong Kong for the Synthetic Biology Conference, or $1000, and a drawing of their lifeform.

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Technology Review reports that researchers in the US have used CRISPR to modify a number of human embryos.

By introducing genes from butterfly peas and Canterbury bells, researchers in Japan have developed a blue chrysanthemum, according to NPR.

Plant researchers plan to sequence some 10,000 samples that represent the major plant clades, ScienceInsider reports.

In Nature this week: a Danish reference genome, and more.