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5 Costliest Microbes in Financial History

The field of synthetic biology is still in its infancy, with many of the most promising companies residing outside of public markets, but make no mistake: The bioeconomy is on its way. Just about everything and anything -- fuels, chemicals, oils, foods, pharmaceuticals, metals, and materials -- will one day be produced by hijacking large pieces of microbial genomes. In fact, there are hundreds of projects under way right now that will soon bring synthetic biology to your doorstep.

It is pretty amazing when you think about it: We are transforming bacteria, fungi, and viruses from massive financial and social burdens into economic tools used to advance society. This is a fascinating turnaround, especially when you consider that many of the deadliest plagues in history were spread along international trade routes (ironically, in the name of advancing society). Although exact economic numbers and even vague estimates are difficult to pin down, each major plague severely affected economic output and caused millions of deaths worldwide.
 
 

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