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Synthetic Biology underpins advances in the bioeconomy

Biological systems - including the simplest cells - exhibit a broad range of functions to thrive in their environment. Research in the Imperial College Centre for Synthetic Biology is focused on the possibility of engineering the underlying biochemical processes to solve many of the challenges facing society, from healthcare to sustainable energy. In particular, we model, analyse, design and build biological and biochemical systems in living cells and/or in cell extracts, both exploring and enhancing the engineering potential of biology. 

As part of our research we develop novel methods to accelerate the celebrated Design-Build-Test-Learn synthetic biology cycle. As such research in the Centre for Synthetic Biology highly multi- and interdisciplinary covering computational modelling and machine learning approaches; automated platform development and genetic circuit engineering ; multi-cellular and multi-organismal interactions, including gene drive and genome engineering; metabolic engineering; in vitro/cell-free synthetic biology; engineered phages and directed evolution; and biomimetics, biomaterials and biological engineering.



BibTex format

author = {Florea, M and Hagemann, H and Santosa, G and Abbott, J and Micklem, CN and Spencer-Milnes, X and de, Arroyo Garcia L and Paschou, D and Lazenbatt, C and Kong, D and Chughtai, H and Jensen, K and Freemont, P and Kitney, RI and Reeve, B and Ellis, T},
doi = {10.1073/pnas.1522985113},
journal = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
pages = {E3431--E3440},
title = {Engineering control of bacterial cellulose production using a genetic toolkit and a new cellulose-producing strain},
url = {},
volume = {113},
year = {2016}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Bacterial cellulose is a strong and ultrapure form of cellulose produced naturally by several species of the Acetobacteraceae. Its high strength, purity and biocompatibility make it of great interest to materials science, however precise control of its biosynthesis has remained a challenge for biotechnology. Here we isolate a new strain of Komagataeibacter rhaeticus (Komagataeibacter rhaeticus iGEM) that can produce cellulose at high yields, grow in low nitrogen conditions, and is highly resistant to toxic chemicals. We achieve external control over its bacterial cellulose production through development of a modular genetic toolkit that enables rational reprogramming of the cell. To further its use as an organism for biotechnology, we sequenced its genome and demonstrate genetic circuits that enable functionalization and patterning of heterologous gene expression within the cellulose matrix. This work lays the foundations for using genetic engineering to produce cellulose-based materials, with numerous applications in basic science, materials engineering and biotechnology.
AU - Florea,M
AU - Hagemann,H
AU - Santosa,G
AU - Abbott,J
AU - Micklem,CN
AU - Spencer-Milnes,X
AU - de,Arroyo Garcia L
AU - Paschou,D
AU - Lazenbatt,C
AU - Kong,D
AU - Chughtai,H
AU - Jensen,K
AU - Freemont,P
AU - Kitney,RI
AU - Reeve,B
AU - Ellis,T
DO - 10.1073/pnas.1522985113
EP - 3440
PY - 2016///
SN - 1091-6490
SP - 3431
TI - Engineering control of bacterial cellulose production using a genetic toolkit and a new cellulose-producing strain
T2 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
UR -
UR -
VL - 113
ER -