• Kat J. McAlpine

    Editor, The Brink Twitter Profile

    Kat J McAlpine

    Kat J. McAlpine is editor of The Brink, Boston University’s news site for scientific breakthroughs and pioneering research. Kat has been telling science stories for over a decade, and prior to joining BU’s editorial staff, publicized research at Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering. Profile

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There are 2 comments on “Synthetic Ecology” Seeks to Boost Health by Engineering the Environment

  1. In addition to synthetic ecology, could it also be called synthetic evolution or directed evolution?

    Also, what are the chances that a non-expected outcome/property of microbes comes about as a result of doing synthetic ecology because instead of direct site-specific genetic changes being applied to the microbes with a singular highly controlled outcome like in synthetic biology, you have indirect epigenetic changes occuring in the microbes due to engineered environmental cues for which the outcomes is not fully controlled due to the indirect method of ‘engineering’ the microbes? Does such a risk or outweigh the potential benefit? Or what should the practice of synthetic ecology be limited to so as to minimize that risk?

    1. Ecology is a key term. If you read the paper, this is a sentence which summarizes their findings in that regard:
      “By testing the effects of increasing numbers of up to 32 different carbon sources on over 280 synthetic microcosms, we examine how yield and diversity differ from expectations based on those in simpler environments.”
      Directed evolution was already defined, cf.:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Directed_evolution

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