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Application Domains

Our research program is focussed around three priority Application Domains:

Environment & Biocontrol

Domain Leader: Owain Edwards

SynBio has the potential to revolutionise our capacity to control our environment by modifying the resilience of species under threat, altering the capacity of insects to vector human disease or controlling populations of invasive species. Australia’s unique geographical and regulatory environments, combined with CSIRO’s world class capabilities in the environmental and biocontrol sciences, give CSIRO considerable competitive advantage in this area.

Projects in this program of work will contribute to a world class capability in delivering environmental and biocontrol solutions based on SynBio technologies.

Chemicals & Fibres

Domain Leader: Colin Scott

SynBio will have a significant role in providing substantial and disruptive technologies to our traditional industries, including chemical and fibre manufacture. In future, manufacture of many chemicals will be achieved via biological routes, this will include new chemicals that are currently unobtainable or impractical via traditional chemical syntheses. Many traditional fibre production systems and chemical manufacturing processes will be supplanted by more efficient and intensified biological systems and processes through SynBio, and new or highly modified versions of extant fibres and chemicals will become accessible through the advanced bioengineering capability of SynBio. To compete Australia must become leading in these areas as they relate to Australia’s traditional economic strengths.

Projects in this program of work will contribute to a world class SynBio capability in delivering production and manufacturing innovations in the fibres and chemicals space.

Endosymbionts & Organelles

Domain Leader: Paul Bertsch

Plastids (mitochondria and chloroplasts) and endosymbionts offer some extremely attractive features as delivery vehicles for novel ‘code’ for repurposing eukaryotic cells, including: control of gene flow, containment, low complexity (bacteria-like) genetic systems, and somatic (but not germ-line) inheritance. Moreover, free-living bacterial systems can be used as model systems to test new code in a high-throughput manner. However, tools are not yet available to re-engineer plastids and endosymbionts or to engineer obligate relationships between eukaryotes and otherwise free-living bacteria/algae.

This program of work will focus on developing appropriate tools to the extent that they can be used to deploy highly desirable traits (e.g. nitrogen-fixation in plants or thermal resilience in coral).