Engineering ecosystems and synthetic ecologies

Michael T. Mee, Harris H. Wang
2012 Molecular Biosystems  
Microbial ecosystems play an important role in nature. Engineering these systems for industrial, medical, or biotechnological purposes are important pursuits for synthetic biologists and biological engineers moving forward. Here, we provide a review of recent progress in engineering natural and synthetic microbial ecosystems. We highlight important forward engineering design principles, theoretical and quantitative models, new experimental and manipulation tools, and possible applications of
more » ... robial ecosystem engineering. We argue that simply engineering individual microbes will lead to fragile homogenous populations that are difficult to sustain, especially in highly heterogeneous and unpredictable environments. Instead, engineered microbial ecosystems are likely to be more robust and able to achieve complex tasks at the spatial and temporal resolution needed for truly programmable biology.
doi:10.1039/c2mb25133g pmid:22722235 pmcid:PMC3430802 fatcat:2psspvtj2vaqbhez5qquo3lv5u