• Biomaterials;
  • Genetic circuits;
  • Minimal genome;
  • Synthetic biology;
  • Systems biology


Synthetic biology is a recently emerging field that applies engineering formalisms to design and construct new biological parts, devices, and systems for novel functions or life forms that do not exist in nature. Synthetic biology relies on and shares tools from genetic engineering, bioengineering, systems biology and many other engineering disciplines. It is also different from these subjects, in both insights and approach. Applications of synthetic biology have great potential for novel contributions to established fields and for offering opportunities to answer fundamentally new biological questions. This article does not aim at a thorough survey of the literature and detailing progress in all different directions. Instead, it is intended to communicate a way of thinking for synthetic biology in which basic functional elements are defined and assembled into living systems or biomaterials with new properties and behaviors. Four major application areas with a common theme are discussed and a procedure (or “protocol”) for a standard synthetic biology work is suggested.