Introduction to Synthetic Biology
Overview of course structure and topics
Introduce the Format of course, grading, and policies.
Synthetic biology concept map
Endy interview #2
Revisit the concept map.
What is Synthetic Biology
Types of studies referred to as synthetic biology (and other fields that might also claim them).
- "The goal of synthetic biology is to extend or modify the behavior of organisms and engineer them to perform new tasks."
- "Synthetic biologists come in two broad classes. One uses unnatural molecules to reproduce emergent behaviours from natural biology, with the goal of creating artificial life. The other seeks interchangeable parts from natural biology to assemble into systems that function unnaturally." 
- Bottom-up assembly of genes, organelles and organisms.
- In contrast to traditional "top-down" genetic approaches that look for mutated versions of existing organisms.
- Ex:Re-factoring and re-writing genomes from scratch.
- Create chemical systems with biological behaviors (e.g., self-replication).
- Application of engineering principles to biology.
- Standardized parts that give predictable outcomes when put together in different combinations.
- Instantiating algorithms and problems from physics and math into biology. (e.g., oscillators)
- Ex: circuits, DNA computing, metabolic engineering
- Rewriting biological sequences in ways that could not be achieved (quickly) by natural evolution
Challenges in Synthetic Biology
- Lack of predictability of complex biological systems
- Evolutionary breakdown of engineered systems (i.e. The organism decides it doesn't like its engineering).
- Escape of recombinant organisms and synthetic genes from the laboratory.
- Engagement with and educating the general public (e.g. genetically modified foods).
- Dual Use research
Timeline of Synthetic Biology
|1970||Discovery of first site-specific restriction enzyme |
|1972||First publication on recombinant DNA |
|1976||First genome sequenced- Bacteriophage MS2 |
|1981||Introduction of phosphoramidite method of DNA oligonucleotide synthesis. |
|1983||First genetically modified plant is produced |
|2000||The "Repressilator" |
|2002||Creation of the first synthetic virus |
|2003||First use of the term "BioBrick"  First chemically synthesized bacteriophage genome assembled |
|2004||First iGEM Jamboree|
|2005||"Adventures in Synthetic Biology" Nature Cover|
|2006||Human Genome Project completed |
|2007||First application of context-free grammars in CAD software for Synthetic Biology (GenoCAD) |
|2008||First synthetic genome assembled |
|2010||Creation of Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0, the first microbe with a self-replicating synthetic genome. |
|2012||Storage of digital information using DNA popularized in the media, Economist (Archives Could Last Thousands of Years when Stored on DNA)|
Examples from Spring 2013:
How to edit a wiki: Instructions for Wiki Editing
Ethics and standards
- Do NOT delete other people's work or comments.
- Always preview your changes before saving them.
- DO NOT use copyrighted material unless you have permission.
- ALWAYS CITE material or concepts used from sources;DO NOT PLAGIARIZE