Synthetic Biology


Synthetic biology applies engineering principles to the natural networks of biology to design and build new tools or machines. A machine is generally made of parts that together perform a useful function; in synthetic biology, those parts are made from biological material, such as biomolecules like proteins or DNA. Handling and shaping the biological material enables us to:

  1. design and build novel artificial biological systems able to perform totally new functions
  2. redesign existing natural biological systems that overcome natural inefficiencies.

We have exploited living organisms for thousands of years for our own purposes — from the domestication of animals for food and companionship to the use of microbes to make bread and alcohol. Now, thanks to the recent technological advances in genetics and biotechnology, we can enhance our utility of nature.

Synthetic Biology - Tree of life

Image by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg. The Synthetic Kingdom, a proposal for a new branch of the tree of life to accommodate our “new nature.” From the project "The Synthetic Kingdom: A Natural History of the Synthetic Future - 2009".