Synthetic biology: biology by design.
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Synthetic biology can be defined as the design and construction of novel biologically based parts, devices and systems, as well as the redesign of existing natural biological systems, for useful purposes. It builds on genetic engineering, being design-driven genetic engineering encompassing engineering concepts of standardization and abstraction (Endy, 2005). One of the technical advances that has significantly increased the ability to undertake synthetic biology has been to artificially synthesize DNA, and thus create DNA parts. So far, the peak achievement has been the synthesis and assembly of a small bacterial genome which was transferred to a bacterial cell devoid of DNA to create a novel replicating microorganism (Gibson et al., 2010). A great diversity of synthetic biology applications exists, many in the early research phase, which include using microbes as biofactories or as biological computers (Bonnet et al., 2012; Oldham et al., 2012). In this issue of Microbiology we have assembled a collection of papers to showcase the current state of synthetic biology research, and to convey the potential impact of synthetic biology on biological sciences.
AuthorsRoberts, MAJ; Cranenburgh, RM; Stevens, MP; Oyston, PCF