The last 20 years of metabolic engineering has enabled bio-based production of fuels and chemicals from renewable carbon sources using cost-effective bioprocesses. Much of this work has been accomplished using engineered microorganisms that act as chemical factories. Although the time required to engineer microbial chemical factories has steadily decreased, improvement is still needed. Through the development of synthetic biology tools for key microbial hosts, it should be possible to further decrease the development times and improve the reliability of the resulting microorganism. Together with continuous decreases in price and improvements in DNA synthesis, assembly and sequencing, synthetic biology tools will rationalize time-consuming strain engineering, improve control of metabolic fluxes, and diversify screening assays for cellular metabolism. This review outlines some recently developed synthetic biology tools and their application to improve production of chemicals and fuels in yeast. Finally, we provide a perspective for the challenges that lie ahead.
- Synthetic biology