New method for "bottom-up genome assembly"

Itaya, et al., have published a new method for assembling ~5kB DNA fragments into genome-sized pieces in this month's Nature Methods (PubMed).  Jason Kelly has launched a blog, Free Genes, where he describes the new method.  Welcome to the blogosphere, Jason.

I won't add anything to Jason's post, other than to note that because Itaya's method exploits a recombination mechanism present in a microbe, there is no need to manipulate large pieces of DNA "by hand".  This is a significant advantage over methods that require lots of pipetting between PCR steps, which exposes the growing DNA to fluid shear.  The reliance upon natural mechanisms for assembly might mean the method is better suited to the garage than something that uses fluid transfer.

Finally, building ~5kB segments doesn't appear to be such a big deal at this point.  While Itaya's method isn't completely general, and as described may be a bit slow, it should be widely useful to anyone who has an in-house method for making gene-sized pieces of DNA and who doesn't want to pay a foundry to assembly even larger pieces.

(Update: Oops.  I forgot to add that this sort of thing is just what I suggested in my previous post, when I observed that while Venter may have made excellent progress in building an artificial chromosome he certainly doesn't have a lock on building new organisms.)