Beyond Genetic Engineering: Technical Capabilities in the Application Fields of Biocatalysis and Biosensors

Christopher E. French, Louise Horsfall, Damian K. Barnard, Kwabena Duedu, Eugene Fletcher, Nimisha Joshi, Steven D. Kane, Sahreena S. Lakhundi, Chao-Kuo Liu, Jan Oltmanns, David Radford, Alejandro Salinas, Joseph White, Alistair Elfick, B. Giese (Editor), C. Pade (Editor), H. Wigger (Editor), A. VonGleich (Editor)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Synthetic biology allows the generation of complex recombinant systems using libraries of modular components. Two major near-market applications are whole-cell biosensors and biocatalysts for conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to biofuels and chemical feedstocks. Whole cell biosensors consist of cells genetically modified so that binding of a specific analyte to a receptor in the cell triggers generation of a specific output which can be detected and quantified. Since these systems are intrinsically modular in nature, with separate systems for signal detection, signal processing, and generation of the output, they are well suited to a synthetic biology approach. Likewise, effective degradation of cellulosic biomass requires a battery of different enzymes working together to degrade the matrix, expose the polysaccharide fibres, hydrolyse these to release sugars, and convert the sugars to useful products. Synthetic biology provides a useful set of tools to generate such systems. In this chapter we consider how synthetic biology has been applied to these applications, and look at possible future developments in these areas.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSynthetic Biology : Character and Impact
EditorsBernd Giese, Christian Pade, Henning Wigger, Arnim von Gleich
Number of pages25
Publication date2015
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-02782-1
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-02783-8
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
SeriesRisk Engineering


  • Biomedical engineering
  • Genetic engineering
  • Quality Control
  • Reliability
  • Safety
  • Risk
  • Energy


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