Image of growing plants and DNA for article on Synthetic Biology
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Published On: June 27th, 2023Categories: Articles, Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology (often coined syn-bio) is an emerging field with endless possibilities. Researchers and scientists believe that one day, you will be able to grow anything with synthetic biology, but in the meantime, syn-bio advances have shown us that we can grow many different things in a field that is only several decades in the making.

What is synthetic biology? There’s not a fully cohesive definition that scientists can agree on, however, The best definition likely comes from the National Human Genome Research Institute, which states that synthetic biology “a field of science that involves redesigning organisms for useful purposes by engineering them to have new abilities.”

Under the umbrella of synthetic biology falls plant synthetic biology, where there have been many advances in the field over the last few years, as of 2023. Read on to learn more about what you can grow with synthetic biology, synthetic biology trends in plant science, and a short overview of synthetic biology.

A Brief History of Synthetic Biology

The history of synthetic biology is very new when compared to other fields of study. In 1944, scientist Oswald Avery discovered chromosomes and genes are present in DNA, which is considered the first real discovery in synthetic biology. The real beginnings of syn-bio occurred in 1973 with the first molecular cloning, and in 1988, the first DNA amplification by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) occurred. Fast forward to 2019, when syn-bio had advanced to the point where it could create a bacterial genome completely by computer.

Some of the modern-day goals and trends in synthetic biology include:

  • Applied protein design
  • Development of standardized biological parts
  • Synthetic genomics
  • Natural protein synthesis

Synthetic and systems biology work together for many of these goals.

What Can You Grow with Synthetic Biology?

There are many things you can grow with synthetic biology and many things that can be accomplished. Some things grown with synthetic biology include:

  • Surfactant. Most of the world’s surfactants use seed oils or petrochemicals, equalling to 3.6 billion gallons of gasoline. Instead, scientists are using microorganisms that convert agricultural waste into new types of surfactants. There is also a microorganism grown with synthetic biology from soybean hulls to surfactants used in personal care products.
  • Synthetic rubber. Natural rubber is difficult to source. Synthetic rubber, like surfactant, also uses petrochemical sources for production. DuPont is currently using fermentation processes to manufacture durable, synthetic rubber.

There are also expectations regarding the future of plant synthetic biology so that we can grow more with synthetic biology. Some of the current plant trends in the synthetic biology market include synthetic metabolic pathways, synthetic sensors, and synthetic genomes. There have also been vaccines using synthetic biology, such as the COVID-19 vaccines. Lab-grown meat is also a big part of the synthetic biology umbrella currently, as the future of lab-grown meat can reduce pollution and greenhouse gases caused by factory farming.

Synthetic Biology Equipment & Tools

Depending on your applications, you’ll need various equipment and tools to grow with synthetic biology. Automated equipment and lab tools are a necessity. Some of the equipment and tools you would find in a syn-bio lab include:

  • Vortex
  • Spectrophotometer
  • Oven
  • System for the purification and drying of solvents
  • Nanodrop
  • Pipettes and micropipettes 
  • Fluorimeter
  • Thermocycler
  • Centrifuge
  • Freeze dryer
  • Incubator
  • Separation module
  • pH meter

As this is not a comprehensive list, you may need other equipment for a synthetic biology laboratory.

Wondering how to complete your lab and grow with synthetic biology? Contact Hudson Robotics today to speak with a representative and receive a quote.