The Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL) Version 3: Simplified Data Exchange for Bioengineering

James A. McLaughlin, Jacob Beal, Goksel Misirli, Raik Grünberg, Bryan A. Bartley, James Scott-Brown, Prashant Vaidyanathan, Pedro Fontanarrosa, Ernst Oberortner, Anil Wipat, Thomas E Gorochowski*, Chris J. Myers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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The Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL) is a community-developed data standard that allows knowledge about biological designs to be captured using a machine-tractable, ontology-backed representation that is built using Semantic Web technologies. While early versions of SBOL focused only on the description of DNA-based components and their sub-components, SBOL can now be used to represent knowledge across multiple scales and throughout the entire synthetic biology workflow, from the specification of a single molecule or DNA fragment through to multicellular systems containing multiple interacting genetic circuits. The third major iteration of the SBOL standard, SBOL3, is an effort to streamline and simplify the underlying data model with a focus on real-world applications, based on experience from the deployment of SBOL in a variety of scientific and industrial settings. Here, we introduce the SBOL3 specification both in comparison to previous versions of SBOL and through practical examples of its use.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1009
Number of pages15
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2020

Structured keywords

  • BrisSynBio
  • Bristol BioDesign Institute


  • synthetic biology
  • data standards
  • data exchange
  • knowledge representation
  • SBOL


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