Synthetic evolution

Nature Biotechnology
Volume 37 Issue 7, July 2019


Review Article | 17 June 2019
Synthetic evolution
From unbiased mutagenesis to precision modification, in genes or whole genomes, researchers have a panoply of tools to direct evolution.
Anna J. Simon, Simon d’Oelsnitz & Andrew D. Ellington
The combination of modern biotechnologies such as DNA synthesis, λ red recombineering, CRISPR-based editing and next-generation high-throughput sequencing increasingly enables precise manipulation of genes and genomes. Beyond rational design, these technologies also enable the targeted, and potentially continuous, introduction of multiple mutations. While this might seem to be merely a return to natural selection, the ability to target evolution greatly reduces fitness burdens and focuses mutation and selection on those genes and traits that best contribute to a desired phenotype, ultimately throwing evolution into fast forward.