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Jef Boeke really, really wanted to avoid giving his yeast cells a “teeny weeny” chromosome. And not because the other yeast would make fun of them.

He was well into his trailblazing project to “write” the first complete genome (“reading,” or sequencing, genomes being so 2000s), with the single-celled organism baker’s yeast the test case. As part of that Synthetic Yeast 2.0 scheme, he and his team had decided to fuse the yeast’s shortest chromosome with a longer one, in order to avoid the teeny-weeny problem — he worried that very short synthetic chromosomes might not be viable. Then a colleague asked, why stop at one? Why not see how many of yeast’s 16 distinct chromosomes you can fuse?

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