Towards an engineering theory of evolution

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle (Specialist Publication)

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Biological technologies are fundamentally unlike any other because biology evolves. Bioengineering therefore requires novel design methodologies with evolution at their core. Knowledge about evolution is currently applied to the design of biosystems ad hoc. Unless we have an engineering theory of evolution, we will neither be able to meet evolution’s potential as an engineering tool, nor understand or limit its unintended consequences for our biological designs. Here, we propose the evotype as a helpful concept for engineering the evolutionary potential of biosystems, or other self-adaptive technologies, potentially beyond the realm of biology.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Specialist publicationNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
S.D.C. was supported by the EPSRC/BBSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Synthetic Biology grant EP/L016494/1. T.E.G. was supported by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship grant UF160357. T.E.G. and C.S.G. were supported by BrisSynBio, a BBSRC/EPSRC Synthetic Biology Research Centre grant BB/L01386X/1. This study did not involve any underlying data.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Structured keywords

  • BrisSynBio
  • Bristol BioDesign Institute


  • evolution
  • synthetic biology
  • bioengineering
  • biodesign
  • evotype


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