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Do-it-yourself biology: challenges and promises for an open science and technology movement

Abstract

The do-it-yourself biology (DIYbio) community is emerging as a movement that fosters open access to resources permitting modern molecular biology, and synthetic biology among others. It promises in particular to be a source of cheaper and simpler solutions for environmental monitoring, personal diagnostic and the use of biomaterials. The successful growth of a global community of DIYbio practitioners will depend largely on enabling safe access to state-of-the-art molecular biology tools and resources. In this paper we analyze the rise of DIYbio, its community, its material resources and its applications. We look at the current projects developed for the international genetically engineered machine competition in order to get a sense of what amateur biologists can potentially create in their community laboratories over the coming years. We also show why and how the DIYbio community, in the context of a global governance development, is putting in place a safety/ethical framework for guarantying the pursuit of its activity. And finally we argue that the global spread of DIY biology potentially reconfigures and opens up access to biological information and laboratory equipment and that, therefore, it can foster new practices and transversal collaborations between professional scientists and amateurs.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Jason Bobe and the members of La Paillasse for useful comments and criticism over the manuscript Thomas Landrain is supported by a Ph.D. fellowship from the AXA Research Fund.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Thomas Landrain.

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Landrain, T., Meyer, M., Perez, A.M. et al. Do-it-yourself biology: challenges and promises for an open science and technology movement. Syst Synth Biol 7, 115–126 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11693-013-9116-4

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Keywords

  • DIYbio
  • Synthetic biology
  • iGEM
  • Health
  • Innovation
  • Biosecurity