May 17th, 2012 | Category: Ethics, Papers, Synthetic Biology | Leave a comment

Synthetic ecology and the SynBio landscape

The 4th Domain will be a little quiet over the next few months, mainly due to the upcoming iGEM competition.   Follow the link to see how we are doing. In the meantime there are two papers I would like to draw your attention to.

The first, Synthetic ecology – A way forward for sustainable algal biofuel production?, from Elena Kazamiaa, David Aldridgeb and Alison Smith discusses the best ways of growing algae out doors – synthetic ecosystems. A commentary of the paper is available here. The abstract reads,

Algal biofuel production offers great potential as a sustainable source of bioenergy without competing for arable land with food crops. However, many challenges must be overcome to enable this to be done commercially at the scale required to produce biofuels. Here we explain how an understanding of algal ecology could lead to more reliable raceway-based microalgal cultivation, drawing from established principles of community ecology to highlight practices that could be applied to protect algal cultures from unwanted contaminants. Using theoretical concepts, we show how an understanding of local community dynamics at the species level might be used to enhance productivity by encouraging certain community structures over others.

And secondly (HT to Steve Hughes) is Synthetic Biology: mapping the synthetic biology landscape. In this analysis Paul Oldham, Stephen Hall and Geoff Burton analyse the synthetic biology publication landscape in order to provide a basis for upcoming debates on synthetic biology. As the abstract says,

This article aims to inform upcoming debates on the governance of synthetic biology by establishing a baseline for mapping the core of the scientific landscape for synthetic biology. We build on two recent advances in visualisation and interaction with scientific information. The first is visualisations of networks of words, organizations, authors and funding bodies using the open source network mapping tool, Gephi. The second is the use of Tableau analytics software to provide interactive visualisation of information on publications about synthetic biology from Thomson Reuters Web of Science.


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