Synthetic biology future applications and technology needs

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This page collects together some ideas about potential future applications for synthetic biology, broken down by technology readiness levels, and a list of some of the technologies that need to be developed to realize those applications.


TRL Application Comments
0 Synthetic cells Ability to design and implement cell-like systems containing multiple subsystems to enable energy generation/transfer, sensing, actuation (export of chemicals, movement), decision-making, memory and other functions. Individual functions have been demonstrated in isolation, but limited demonstration of integrated synthetic cells are available. The Biuld-Aa-Cell consortium is organized around this problem.
1 Engineered multi-functional materials Comments
3 Cell-based chemical detection and logging Comments
3 Cell-free chemical detection and logging Comments
2 Gut microbiome engineering Comments
2 Wound microbiome engineering Comments
2 Plant microbiome engineering Comments
4 Environmental bioremediation Comments
1 Engineered (biological) surface coatings Comments
1 Environmentally responsive materials Comments
3 Point-of-need manufacturing Comments
7 Metabolic engineering/materials production The use of engineered metabolic pathways to make (relatively simple) chemicals is an active area of business, with chemicals ranging from insulin to spider silk to food products. The basic technology is implementation of a enzymatic pathway to produce a biologically tractable chemical in a fermentable organism (e.g., yeast, E. coli).


TRL Technology Comments
? Low-cost DNA synthesis/assembly Comment
? Circuit design libraries and tools Comment
? Subsystem engineering and modularity Comment
? Cell-free prototyping Comment
? Model-based design Comment
? Multi-cellular consortia Comment
? Engineered multi-cellular organisms Comment
? Engineered macromolecular machines Comment
? Programmable (and orthogonal) sensing and communications Comment
? Mutation-resistant systems/mutation compensation
? Non-exponential phase circuitry