Showing posts from March 7, 2010

Term confusion: Synthetic biology, Biohacking, DIYbio

There seems to be some confusion as to what these concepts mean and how they differ. I'll make an attempt at clarification and explain what these three terms - Synthetic biology, DIYbio, Biohacking - mean to me.

Synthetic biology (synbio): This is an academic field of study that moves the focus from biology as an activity of observation to one of manipulation. One motivation here is that of understanding by synthesis, much like a beginning electronics enthusiast would build a circuit from scratch to understand how the different components interact, what happens when you leave out one component, how the behaviour of the circuit changes when you use a different resistor etc.
Apart from this, one important idea in the synbio community seems to be that biotechnology should become a true engineering discipline, which requires standardization, abstraction, modularization, and componentization. This is the spirit behind BioBricks and the Registry of Standard Biological Parts.

DIYbio: Do-it-…