Synthetic biology is the design and formation of new biological components, devices, and systems, and the re-designing of already available, natural biological systems for useful purposes.
Synthetic biology is a recent field of science that includes redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities. Synthetic biology researchers and companies around the world are controlling the power of nature to solve problems in medicine, manufacturing and agriculture.
It redesign the organisms in such a way that they produce a substance, such as a medicine or fuel, or gain a new ability, such as sensing something in the environment, are common goals of synthetic biology projects. Some examples of what scientists are producing with synthetic biology are:
- Controlled microorganisms for bioremediation to clean pollutants from our water, soil and air.
- Rice is modified to produce beta-carotene, a nutrient usually associated with carrots, that prevents vitamin A deficiency.
- Yeast engineered to produce rose oil as an eco-friendly and sustainable substitute for real roses that perfumers use to make luxury scents.
In certain ways, synthetic biology is similar to another approach called “genome editing” because both involve changing an organism’s genetic code; however, some people draw a distinction between these two approaches based on how that change is made. In synthetic biology, scientists typically stitch together long stretches of DNA and insert them into an organism’s genome. These synthesized pieces of DNA could be genes that are found in other organisms or they could be entirely novel. In genome editing, scientists typically use tools to make smaller changes to the organism’s own DNA. Genome editing tools can also be used to delete or add small stretches of DNA in the genome.
Synthetic biology involves the application of engineering principles to biology. It aims at the fabrication of biological parts and systems that do not already exist in the natural world. Synthetic biology combines chemical synthesis of DNA with growing knowledge of genomics to enable researchers to quickly manufacture catalogued DNA sequences and gather them into new genomes.
- studies complex natural biological systems as integrated whole using tools of modeling, simulation, and comparison to experiment.
- studies how to build artificial biological systems, using many of the same tools and experimental techniques.
- It focuses on taking parts of natural biological systems, characterizing and simplifying them, and using them as components of an engineered biological system.
- Improvements in the speed and cost of DNA synthesis are permitting scientists to design and synthesize modified bacterial chromosomes that can be used in the production of advanced biofuels, bio-products, renewable chemicals, bio-based specialty chemicals (pharmaceutical intermediates, fine chemicals, food ingredients), and in the health care sector as well.
- Natural product synthesis such as engineering microbes to produce all of the necessary enzymes and biological functions to perform complex multistep production of natural products.