The title

The title was inspired by the short film The Synthetic Kingdom by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg in which an extension to the three* domains of life (archaea, bacteria and eukaryota) is proposed: synthetica.

The blog

This blog (when time allows) is aimed at students at the University of Exeter who are interested in synthetic biology and biotechnology. It is intended to guide students towards interesting articles, papers and other sources information relevant to these topics. Detours into metabolic engineering, primary plant metabolism, protein-protein interactions and other miscellany (including the ethics and art of synthetic biology) can be expected.


Thomas Howard is a Shell Open Innovation Independent Research Fellow at the University of Exeter with research experience in the routes and regulation of carbon flux: from carbon capture, partitioning and ultimately fuel biosynthesis (both for the organism and for ourselves). Thomas’ background is in biotechnology and the study of metabolic networks.

George Littlejohn is a plant biologist at the University of Exeter, with a primary interest in techniques for visualising plant cells and cellular signalling. George has a background in molecular biology and plant and bacterial engineering with experience in the design and development of fluorescent biosensors and advanced microscopy techniques.

Previous 4th Domain resident

TV’s Mike Page is a plant biologist now at the University of Southampton.  Mike used to work for Bill Gates on a project to eliminate third-world hunger (!) by alleviating the effects of post-harvest deterioration in cassava.  He is now studying the regulation of vitamin C synthesis in Arabidopsis, and the effect of vitamin C status on anthocyanin accumulation.  Mike has a background in plant genetic engineering and metabolomics, with the merest hint of biochemistry on the side.

*for the time being at least.