The Next Generation of Synthetic Biology Chassis: Moving Synthetic Biology

Report No. ARL-RP-0579
Authors: Bryn L Adams
Date/Pages: October 2016; 8 pages
Abstract: Escherichia coli (E. coli) has played a pivotal role in the development of genetics and molecular biology as scientific fields. It is therefore not surprising that synthetic biology (SB) was built upon E. coli and continues to dominate the field. However, scientific capabilities have advanced from simple gene mutations to the insertion of rationally designed, complex synthetic circuits and creation of entirely synthetic genomes. The point is rapidly approaching where E. coli is no longer an adequate host for the increasingly sophisticated genetic designs of SB. It is time to develop the next generation of SB chassis; robust organisms that can provide the advanced physiology novel synthetic circuits will require to move SB from the laboratory into fieldable technologies. This can be accomplished by developing chassis-specific genetic toolkits that are as extensive as those for E. coli. However, the holy grail of SB would be the development of a universal toolkit that can be ported into any chassis. This viewpoint article underscores the need for new bacterial chassis, as well as discusses some of the important considerations in their selection. It also highlights a few examples of robust, tractable bacterial species that can meet the demands of tomorrow's state-of-the-art in SB. Significant advances have been made in the first 15 years since this field has emerged. However, the advances over the next 15 years will occur not in laboratory organisms, but in fieldable species where the potential of SB can be fully realized in game changing technology.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: October 1, 2016