Bacteriocins are small, genetically encoded peptides used by bacteria to target and kill other microbes, which can be closely or distantly related, with a specific or broad spectrum of action. As a result, they are amenable to manipulation through genetic engineering techniques.

Synthetic biology involves the application of engineering techniques to biological systems. Engineering within a biological system is similar to traditional engineering in that both begin with a collection of tools, parts, and a basic “chassis”. The biological system differs from traditional engineering systems in that while both can be constructed by the addition of modules or parts to the basic chassis, the biological chassis is the organismal genome, including both chromosomal and extra-chromosomal (episomal) elements, and is thereforebased on evolution (= not man-made) and self-replicative. This simplifies the process of replicating the system but has the downside of the possible introduction of errors. Biological system “parts” consist of separable genetic elements that can be characterized by function and activity level and recombined into new systems. DNA cloning, sequencing, editing, and synthesis technologies underly this approach. In silico modelling is an important tool for understanding the interplay of synthetic networks constructed from these biological parts, especially in the context of a living cell. An example of this approach would be the iGEM parts registry, a collection of genetic parts designed to be easily constructed into new genetic systems.

The name Syngulon invokes our mission: to use synthetic biology to improve, protect, and contain microbial systems used in industrial processes. We use bacteriocins to improve biofermentation by removing the need for antibiotic-based selection and preventing contamination from unwanted microbes. Bacteriocins can target other microbes down to the strain level. Similarly, bacteriocins already existing in nature can be manipulated to expand their specificity. Synthetic biology also gives us the potential to create de novo bacteriocins using synthetic biology techniques. We apply synthetic biology techniques to produce bacteriocins by using state of the art tools for sequence design and DNA and peptide synthesis as well as high-throughput screening for desired effects. We can produce bacteriocins through in vivo, in vitro, and through chemical synthesis.