The Synthetic Biology Open Language

  • Chris Myers
  • Kevin Clancy
  • Goksel Misirli
  • Ernst Oberortner
  • Matthew Pocock
  • Jacqueline Quinn
  • Nicholas Roehner
  • Herbert M. SauroEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1244)


The design and construction of engineered organisms is an emerging new discipline called synthetic biology and holds considerable promise as a new technological platform. The design of biologically engineered systems is however nontrivial, requiring contributions from a wide array of disciplines. One particular issue that confronts synthetic biologists is the ability to unambiguously describe novel designs such that they can be reengineered by a third-party. For this reason, the synthetic biology open language (SBOL) was developed as a community wide standard for formally representing biological designs. A design created by one engineering team can be transmitted electronically to another who can then use this design to reproduce the experimental results. The development and the community of the SBOL standard started in 2008 and has since grown in use with now over 80 participants, including international, academic, and industrial interests. SBOL has stimulated the development of repositories and software tools to help synthetic biologists in their design efforts. This chapter summarizes the latest developments and future of the SBOL standard and its supporting infrastructure.

Key words

Synthetic biology Standards Engineering design 



We would like to thank the members of the SBOL Developers Group for their work in making the SBOL standard a reality. The SBOL project also acknowledges the generous support of a “Computational Challenges in Synthetic Biology” Award from Microsoft. In addition we wish to also thank the National Science Foundation under Grant Number CCF-1218095, the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Agilent Technologies Applications and Core Technology University Research (ACT-UR) program, AutoCAD, the CIDAR Group at Boston University, IWBDA, Newcastle University Center for Synthetic Biology, and Raytheon BBN Technologies for their generous support in helping develop SBOL. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Myers
    • 1
  • Kevin Clancy
    • 2
  • Goksel Misirli
    • 3
  • Ernst Oberortner
    • 4
  • Matthew Pocock
    • 3
  • Jacqueline Quinn
    • 5
  • Nicholas Roehner
    • 1
  • Herbert M. Sauro
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Dept. of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Synthetic Biology UnitLife TechnologiesCarlsbadUSA
  3. 3.School of Computing ScienceNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK
  4. 4.Dept. of Electrical and Computer EngineeringBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  5. 5.Bio Nano Programmable MatterAutodesk ResearchSan FranciscoUSA
  6. 6.Department of BioengineeringUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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