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Trends in Biotechnology
Vol. 37 (2), 20
19, Pages: 181-197

Synthetic Biology Tools to Engineer Microbial Communities for Biotechnology

Nicholas S.McCarty1, Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro1,2

Imperial College Centre for Synthetic Biology, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK.


Microbial consortia have been used in biotechnology processes, including fermentation, waste treatment, and agriculture, for millennia. Today, synthetic biologists are increasingly engineering microbial consortia for diverse applications, including the bioproduction of medicines, biofuels, and biomaterials from inexpensive carbon sources. An improved understanding of natural microbial ecosystems, and the development of new tools to construct synthetic consortia and program their behaviors, will vastly expand the functions that can be performed by communities of interacting microorganisms. Here, we review recent advancements in synthetic biology tools and approaches to engineer synthetic microbial consortia, discuss ongoing and emerging efforts to apply consortia for various biotechnological applications, and suggest future applications.

Keywords: microbial consortia, synthetic biology, bioproduction, biomaterials, synthetic microbial communities, synthetic consortia.

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