Synthetic biology, or the usage of engineering principles in biology and biotechnology, not only enables incredible advances in health care but also in the industrial production of pharmaceuticals, perfumes or even clothes. To explore the exciting research being done in that area, some fellow steering committee members of the European association of synthetic biology students and post-docs (EUSynBioS) and myself wrote an article for the blog of the journal PLOS Synthetic Biology about current efforts to construct a circular bioeconomy with the capabilties of synthetic biology.
Being able to program useful microbes to produce sufficient amounts of material and equip them with the functionality in the form of genes and biosynthetic pathways to produce this material in the first place was a major game changer for this industry. The main focus, and benefits, of a bioeconomy lie in its lower environmental impact. Starting out from sustainable and low-cost material such as sugar (or even better non-edible sugar crops to prevent competition), engineered microbes are able to produce biodegradable plastic, biogas or leather. Find out more about these exciting prospects in the article linked above!