More on open-source biology:

The paper describes two new technologies: TransBacter, a method for transferring genes to plants, and GUSPlus, a method of visualizing where the genes are and what they do. Behind the research, which was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, is a team of scientists who want to provide the technologies as a "kernel," modeled on the Linux movement, as the beginning of perhaps the first practical offering in open-source biology.

Researchers who want to develop technologies based on this kernel can use it as they wish if they agree to a flexible license issued by Biological Innovation for Open Society, or BIOS. The initiative is being spearheaded by Richard Jefferson, also founder of Cambia, an agricultural life science institute in Canberra, Australia. [...]

In other words, local entrepreneurs, universities and other institutions in impoverished locales need to get on board with BIOS for Jefferson's open-source biology plan to work. He hopes the initiative will help new enterprises, as well as existing nonprofit organizations charged with improving conditions in poor nations, to take advantage of the BIOS program.

"(Institutions in the public sector) need to be much more effective, and the BIOS initiative will (help them) do that," Jefferson said. "Ultimately, as broadband expands, more and more decentralized participation can be envisioned."

For the vision to become reality, BIOS plans to reach out to these entities with its BioForge website, which it launched Wednesday. Scientists can deposit and obtain scientific information on the site.

The open-source biology movement has been bubbling to the surface for years, and enthusiasts are heartened by the first technologies finally becoming available.

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Today's "Science Friday hour

Today's "Science Friday hour one": had a bit about open source biology. Ira talked to Richard Jefferson from CAMBIA. Was fairly watered down to appeal to a mass audience, but informative nonetheless.