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Basic Building Blocks

Synthetic Genomics and ExxonMobil teamed up a few years ago to develop biofuels from algae in the hopes of fueling cars and planes. But as MIT's Technology Review points out, things don't appear to have gone as planned. Bloomberg has reported that the project "hit a snag in 2011 when a strain that made enough oil in a California greenhouse to meet a required milestone in the contract failed to perform in a pond at an ExxonMobil facility in Texas."

The companies have a new agreement, as GenomeWeb Daily News reported last week. This new agreement, Tech Review notes, gets back to basics. "[Synthetic Genomics] will focus now on its namesake technology – synthetic genomics, a relatively new science that involves making large changes to genomes, even to the point of building whole new ones," Kevin Bullis writes at Tech Review. "The goal remains the same: 'to develop strains [of algae that] reproduce quickly, produce a high proportion of lipids and effectively withstand environmental and operational conditions.'"