Systems and Synthetic Biology

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 79–83

Are we doing synthetic biology?


DOI: 10.1007/s11693-012-9101-3

Cite this article as:
Porcar, M. & Peretó, J. Syst Synth Biol (2012) 6: 79. doi:10.1007/s11693-012-9101-3


Synthetic Biology is a singular, revolutionary scenario with a vast range of practical applications but, is SB research really based on engineering principles? Is it contributing to the artificial synthesis of life or using approaches “sophisticated” enough to fall outside the scope of biotechnology or metabolic engineering? We have reviewed the state of the art on synthetic biology and we conclude that most research projects actually describe an extension of metabolic engineering. We draw this conclusion because the complexity of living organisms, their tight dependence on evolution and our limited knowledge of the interactions between the molecules they are made of, actually make life difficult to engineer. We therefore propose the term synthetic biology should be used more sparingly.


Synthetic biologyMetabolic engineeringArtificial life

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut Cavanilles de Biodiversitat i Biologia EvolutivaUniversitat de ValènciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.Fundació General de la Universitat de ValènciaValenciaSpain
  3. 3.Departament de GenèticaUniversitat de ValènciaValenciaSpain
  4. 4.Departament de Bioquímica i Biologia MolecularUniversitat de ValènciaValenciaSpain