Tuesday, June 07, 2016

A big step forward for engineering in synthetic biology

Today the synthetic biology community took a big step forward in its progress towards being a mature engineering discipline.  As of today, ACS Synthetic Biology became the first scientific journal to officially adopt standards for how genetic constructs should be depicted and how the designs of engineered organisms should be recorded and shared.

ACS Synthetic Biology chose to adopt the two current Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL) standards.  The journal's author guidelines are being adjusted to state that genetic constructs should be depicted using SBOL Visual and that SBOL 2 is the preferred format for nucleic acid sequences.

Wider adoption of standards like these is critical for moving the engineering of living organisms from being a delicate craft, practiced with great difficult and uncertainty, toward becoming a familiar and reliable part of our capabilities as a species.  Effective engineering demands clear communication and the ability to integrate components from many sources.  Safe and ethical engineering practices demand them even more so.

As a species, we've made the transition from guild craft to engineering discipline with stone and iron, with bridges and buildings, with electricity and even radiation. Step by step we are on our way to doing the same with biological organisms.
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