Synthetic genomics is a nascent field of synthetic biology that uses aspects of genetic modification on pre-existing life forms with the intent of producing some product or desired behavior on the part of the life form so created.
Synthetic genomics is unlike genetic modification in the sense that it does not use naturally occurring genes in its life forms. It may make use of custom designed base pair series, though in a more expanded and presently unrealized sense synthetic genomics could utilize genetic codes that are not composed of the four base pairs of DNA that are currently used by life.
The development of synthetic genomics is related to certain recent technical abilities and technologies in the field of genetics. The ability to construct long base pair chains cheaply and accurately on a large scale has allowed researchers to perform experiments on genomes that do not exist in nature. Coupled with the developments in protein folding models and decreasing computational costs the field synthetic genomics is beginning to enter a productive stage of vitality.
The J. Craig Venter Institute has assembled a quasi-synthetic Mycoplasma genitalium yeast genome by recombination of 25 overlapping fragments in a single step. "The use of yeast recombination greatly simplifies the assembly of large DNA molecules from both synthetic and natural fragments." Other companies, such as Synthetic Genomics, have already been formed to take advantage of the many commercial uses of custom designed genomes.
- Daniel G. Gibson, Gwynedd A. Benders, Kevin C. Axelrod, Jayshree Zaveri, Mikkel A. Algire, Monzia Moodie, Michael G. Montague, J. Craig Venter, Hamilton O. Smith, and Clyde A. Hutchison III (2008). "One-step assembly in yeast of 25 overlapping DNA fragments to form a complete synthetic Mycoplasma genitalium genome". PNAS 105 (51): 20404–20409. doi:10.1073/pnas.0811011106. PMC 2600582. PMID 19073939.
- Synthetic Genomes: Technologies and Impact - A 2004 study completed for the DOE on the subject.