In October, Wageningen Campus will showcase the theme of synthetic biology. Researchers will meet the public. What is it that they are actually doing in the field of synthetic biology? Come and find out at SynCity Days.
What is Synthetic Biology?
Synthetic biology is a top-notch research area for engineers and biologists. In synthetic biology, new substances are created, such as medicines or completely new biological systems that have no reason to occur in nature, by doing things like re-designing cells or parts of cells. At Wageningen University & Research, a great deal of attention is paid to Synthetic Biology. Our own investments have made various new research programmes possible.
New discipline: Synthetic Biology
Synthetic biology is a relatively new scientific discipline. Using natural building blocks such as bacteria and mould as well as parts of proteins and of DNA strands, synthetic biologists are able to design things like new compositions of intestinal flora, new plants, new medicines, or other new biological systems. These new creations are used by researchers to:
- feed people better;
- improve health; and
- achieve a more sustainable environment.
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Synthetic Biology Research
In the synthetic biological research at Wageningen University & Research, there are different, individual themes: complete ecosystems such as intestinal flora, individual organisms, organs, cells, and molecules such as new medicines
There are billions of bacteria around the roots of a plant as well as in the human intestines which include a wide range of species. By re-designing the composition of this kind of miniature ecosystem, there is the possibility to help patients with intestinal problems or to arrange soil compositions in such a way that agricultural crops are more resistant to pests or climate change.
New materials from bacteria and mould
When new genes are added to bacteria or mould, they can be used in the production of new, useful substances. This method has already made it possible to use bacteria to create medicines, fuels, or components for artificial substances, which would otherwise be made in the petrochemical industry and, therefore, be less sustainable.
Mathematics and engineering
Synthetic biology uses building blocks provided by nature. However, using these components to construct improved biological systems such as ecosystems or medicines would not be possible without mathematics and information technology. For this reason, the common thread that runs through synthetic biology is woven from mathematical models, IT, and biotechnology.
Researchers at Wageningen University & Research are not just studying the potential applications of synthetic biology. They are also immersing themselves in the social questions surrounding this new approach. Wageningen University & Research feels it is important that society actively engages in discussion and thinking about these questions, especially in relatively new disciplines such as synthetic biology. For this reason, WUR is organising SynCity Days.
The SynCity Days have been made possible through financial support from NWO and Empower Putida and the effort of BioFictions