Building in Beyond Earth
The first colonial “gene gardens” were created to craft and supply therapeutic DNA transgenes – whether integrated in the genome or as an external episome – for use in somatic and germline approaches. Using recombinant viruses or “naked” DNA, physicians were able to cure or limit a number of genetic diseases still prevalent in colonists from Old Earth, such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, lymphocytic leukemia, choroideremia, and several kinds of immunodeficiency, effectively eliminating these from the population. In a number of instances the gene gardens also became the site of research in genetic engineering and genomic cultivation, both fields gaining ever more importance in colonial efforts to adapt their citizenry to this planet. In time, the techniques developed in the gene gardens were used for adaptive human mutations, initially minor ones that involved metabolic adjustments permitting ingestion of native flora and lessening dependence on traditional agriculture. Eventually, the gene gardens became an essential component in the biotech infrastructure of many settlements, contributing to food production, biomedicine, biorobotics, recycling, and even biofuel production. But their role in combating illness remained significant, most recently in the realms of applied immunology, prenatal genetic diagnosis and pharmagenomics.