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Title

Synthetic Biology for Terraformation Lessons from Mars, Earth, and the Microbiome

AuthorsConde-Pueyo, Núria; Vidiella, Blai; Sardanyés, Josep ; Berdugo, Miguel; Maestre, Fernando T.; Lorenzo, Víctor de; Solé, Ricard V.
KeywordsTerraformation
Mars
Evolution
Microbiome
Synthetic biology
Drylands
Hypercycles
Restoration ecology
Issue Date9-Feb-2020
PublisherMultidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
CitationLife 10(2): 14 (2020)
AbstractWhat is the potential for synthetic biology as a way of engineering, on a large scale, complex ecosystems? Can it be used to change endangered ecological communities and rescue them to prevent their collapse? What are the best strategies for such ecological engineering paths to succeed? Is it possible to create stable, diverse synthetic ecosystems capable of persisting in closed environments? Can synthetic communities be created to thrive on planets different from ours? These and other questions pervade major future developments within synthetic biology. The goal of engineering ecosystems is plagued with all kinds of technological, scientific and ethic problems. In this paper, we consider the requirements for terraformation, i.e., for changing a given environment to make it hospitable to some given class of life forms. Although the standard use of this term involved strategies for planetary terraformation, it has been recently suggested that this approach could be applied to a very different context: ecological communities within our own planet. As discussed here, this includes multiple scales, from the gut microbiome to the entire biosphere.
DescriptionThis article belongs to the Section Synthetic Biology and Systems Biology.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.3390/life10020014
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/202415
DOIhttp://dx.doi.org/10.3390/life10020014
E-ISSN2075-1729
Identifiersdoi: 10.3390/life10020014
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