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Last update: May 2021

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Pole "Systems and Synthetic Microbiology"

Systems and Synthetic Biology

Systems biology considers the organisms and biological processes as complex dynamic systems. It aims to decipher their complexity from quantitative analysis at the scale of the whole organism ("omics") in combination with mathematical models. It brings about a multidisciplinary and multi-scale view of biological systems, to predict how they change over time and under varying environmental conditions.

Synthetic biology combines biology and engineering to ‘deconstruct’ complex biological systems and processes in simple elements in order to rationally build ("synthesize") new systems and biological functions from genetic and metabolic natural networks.

These approaches revolutionize our approach to biology. Systems biology proposes principles to explain the logics of live organisms and synthetic biology tests and exploits these principles by applying engineering methods. The two research areas are in continuous interaction. They feed off each other and simultaneously allow acquisition of knowledge and development of concepts and tools for biotechnology

The scientific project of the MSS division fosters this evolution, from the traditional reductionist analytic approach of biological functions towards a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to deciphering their complexity, opening up new venues of research to exploit the properties of biosynthesis and degradation of microorganisms for the benefit of humankind.

Activities and strategical axis of the MSS division

The ambitions of the MSS division are:

  1. Understand not only mechanistic details but also the general principles governing cellular processes in microorganisms
  2. Build predictive and explanatory models integrating cellular processes
  3. Combine in silico and experimental approaches to generate microorganisms with predetermined properties

The MSS division contributes to tackle great challenges in the areas of health, food, environment and sustainable development by rationally exploiting the formidable biosynthetic and transformation capacities of bacteria and yeast.

The MSS division groups together 5 research teams (Bio-RetroSynth, B2L, ProCeD,SyBER, MUSE) that are working together to

  • Elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying cellular processes in microbial cells
  • Obtain systemic understanding of Gram-positive bacteria and of the lipid metabolism of oleaginous yeast
  • Develop in silico methods and engineering approaches (genomics, metabolomics, etc.) in model microorganisms to serve biotechnology innovation

To reach its scientific objectives, the teams of the Systemic and Synthetic Microbiology division collaborate closely with the INRA unit MaIAGE for their expertise in mathematical modeling, statistics and bioinformatics. For additional expertise in physics biophysics, biochemistry and synthetic biology they also collaborate closely with the Centre de Biochimie Structurale (CNRS - Inserm, Montpellier), the Génoscope of Evry, in particular the laboratory of systems and synthetic biology of the unit Génomique Métabolique, the laboratory i3-BioNet of the unit CRIStAL of the University of Lille and the laboratory SYS BIO of the technological university of Chalmers, Sweden.

The head of the MSS division is Rut Carballido-López.