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Kjeld Aamodt

If I were stranded on a desert island, with only a personal microbiology laboratory made to my specifications, I would study fungal genetics to save my life. Although I'm probably being a bit hyperbolical and amusing, I would study a sample of yeasts using my knowledge of bioinformatics and genomics to engineer a breed of brewers yeast that would synthesize all of the vitamins essential to human nutrition, of which I would inevitably have deficiencies in being trapped on a desert island. My choice to study fungal genetics would also prove vital for preparing against numerous other desert-island-related risks.
Apart from the fact that brewers yeast tastes fantastic -- sprinkled dry on the fresh flesh of one of the ubiquitous coconuts from the island-- brewers yeast is also already incredibly nutritious. As a dietary supplement, it would be essential for my survival. Even before genetic manipulation, brewers yeast is an excellent source of protein and vitamins, including B-complex vitamins as well as minerals and cofactors. With my microbiological laboratory, I would induce the yeast to over-express these vitamins and to produce other ones like vitamin A via the introduction of novel genes through genetic engineering.
In addition to its nutritive properties, brewers yeast combined with sugary coconut milk as the carbon source produces another useful asset to my island isolation -- alcohol. True, it may bestow a beguiling buzz for passing the time alone on my island while resting in the shade of a coconut tree, but more importantly for my survival, it can also be distilled into a higher proof liquid with many uses. Nearly pure ethanol can be used as an antiseptic for the inevitable cuts and injuries that might prove otherwise life-threatening. Moreover, it can be used as fuel for cooking, heating, and potentially even for fueling that broken-down boat that got me to this godforsaken island...
But the legacy of the novel yeast wouldn’t end on island... Once I’ve arrived home after a long voyage across the Pacific on a lifeboat fueled entirely with coconut milk fermented by genetically-engineered yeast into ethanol, the story would continue. I would sell my organism (brought safely from the island in a falcon tube insulated within a coconut shell) to a major oil company for use as a renewable energy source, ameliorating the global warming debacle. Moreover, I would also stipulate within my sales contract that all of the yeast filtrate must be dried and distributed to all of the impoverished populations around the globe as a food supplement to cure nutrient and vitamin deficiencies like kwashiorkor, marasmus, scurvy, and vitamin A deficiency, to name a few...

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