Emerging opportunities for synthetic biology in agriculture

Hugh Douglas Goold*, Philip Wright, Deborah Hailstones

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    45 Citations (Scopus)
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    Rapid expansion in the emerging field of synthetic biology has to date mainly focused on the microbial sciences and human health. However, the zeitgeist is that synthetic biology will also shortly deliver major outcomes for agriculture. The primary industries of agriculture, fisheries and forestry, face significant and global challenges; addressing them will be assisted by the sector’s strong history of early adoption of transformative innovation, such as the genetic technologies that underlie synthetic biology. The implementation of synthetic biology within agriculture may, however, be hampered given the industry is dominated by higher plants and mammals, where large and often polyploid genomes and the lack of adequate tools challenge the ability to deliver outcomes in the short term. However, synthetic biology is a rapidly growing field, new techniques in genome design and synthesis, and more efficient molecular tools such as CRISPR/Cas9 may harbor opportunities more broadly than the development of new cultivars and breeds. In particular, the ability to use synthetic biology to engineer biosensors, synthetic speciation, microbial metabolic engineering, mammalian multiplexed CRISPR, novel anti microbials, and projects such as Yeast 2.0 all have significant potential to deliver transformative changes to agriculture in the short, medium and longer term. Specifically, synthetic biology promises to deliver benefits that increase productivity and sustainability across primary industries, underpinning the industry’s prosperity in the face of global challenges.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number341
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    Number of pages17
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • agriculture
    • microbial
    • plants
    • primary industries
    • synthetic biology


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