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Front. Microbiol., 25 July 2013 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2013.00211

Bridging the gap between systems biology and synthetic biology

  • Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA

Systems biology is an inter-disciplinary science that studies the complex interactions and the collective behavior of a cell or an organism. Synthetic biology, as a technological subject, combines biological science and engineering, allowing the design and manipulation of a system for certain applications. Both systems and synthetic biology have played important roles in the recent development of microbial platforms for energy, materials, and environmental applications. More importantly, systems biology provides the knowledge necessary for the development of synthetic biology tools, which in turn facilitates the manipulation and understanding of complex biological systems. Thus, the combination of systems and synthetic biology has huge potential for studying and engineering microbes, especially to perform advanced tasks, such as producing biofuels. Although there have been very few studies in integrating systems and synthetic biology, existing examples have demonstrated great power in extending microbiological capabilities. This review focuses on recent efforts in microbiological genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics, aiming to fill the gap between systems and synthetic biology.

Keywords: systems biology, synthetic biology, microbial engineering, metabolic engineering, cell factory

Citation: Liu D, Hoynes-O’Connor A and Zhang F (2013) Bridging the gap between systems biology and synthetic biology. Front. Microbiol. 4:211. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2013.00211

Received: 09 May 2013; Accepted: 07 July 2013;
Published online: 25 July 2013.

Edited by:

Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA

Reviewed by:

Dong-Woo Lee, Kyungpook National University, South Korea
Patrick Hallenbeck, University of Montreal, Canada

Copyright: © 2013 Liu, Hoynes-O’Connor and Zhang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Fuzhong Zhang, Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, Washington University, 1 Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA e-mail: fzhang@seas.wustl.edu