Synthetic Biology Newsletter

In This Issue

Genome Engineering using TAL Effectors  

Featured Article

Gene synthesis – what once was record time is now standard


GeneArt cloning  

New! GeneArt® Strings™ DNA Fragments—fast and affordable for every lab

Do you have a tight timeline and small budget for your cloning project but still want to achieve high expression yields?


gateway cloning  

Tips & Tricks - Top 5 Gateway® Cloning Tips & Tricks

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Technology Applied

Genome Engineering using TAL Effectors

Genome Engineering using TAL Effectors

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Synthetic Biology Resources


Cloning Past and Present

synthetic biology   

Cloning 1–4 fragments has never been quicker or easier

Read more>>

Hot From Social

synthetic biology  

What does synthetic biology mean to you?

Check out this synthetic biology word cloud we created using comments from our Facebook fans.


Featured Article

Gene synthesis – what once was record time is now standard

GeneArt® gene synthesis services have helped make Life Technologies one of the foremost pioneers in the now widely recognized field of synthetic biology. Recent advances in our proprietary GeneAssembler® synthesis platform allow for the synthesis of custom-made genes in only 5 business days.

In gene synthesis, production speed can be critical—for example, when a sudden viral outbreak requires the quick development and production of vaccine. A key example of such an emergency was the 2009 swine flu outbreak in Europe. During the crisis, the institution in Germany responsible for disease control and prevention, the Robert Koch Institute, as well as several major pharmaceutical companies involved in vaccine development, ordered GeneArt® genetic material for vaccine production because of our extremely fast turnaround time.

Our production time of 3–5 days for viral coat proteins was achieved to address just such an emergency outbreak scenario. Then regarded as record speed, our production turnaround time has now become available to every GeneArt® customer, as the technologies developed to fight emergency outbreaks have found their way into the regular gene synthesis assembly line.

Send us your story about how Life Technologies is enabling you to make breakthroughs, and we’ll feature your story in our next issue. Email us at


New! GeneArt® Strings™ DNA Fragments ‐ Fast and affordable for every lab

Do you have a tight timeline and small budget for your cloning project, but still want to achieve high expression yields?  With GeneArt® Strings™ DNA Fragments we offer you now a fast and affordable alternative to traditional cloning and full gene synthesis: custom DNA fragments made by gene synthesis delivered in only 5–7 business days and ready for cloning into your vector.

  • Fast— Strings™ DNA Fragments up to 1,000 bp are produced within 5 business days
  • Flexible—enter your sequence and directly edit, optimize, and order through our online portal
  • Affordable— Strings™ DNA Fragments are a cost-effective alternative to gene synthesis for genes up to 1,000 bp or if you need to order several fragments to assemble a longer gene

Assembly of the Strings™ DNA Fragments works great with GeneArt® Seamless Cloning & Assembly Kits. Assemble up to 4 cloned fragments in only 30 minutes or less at room temperature.

More Information

Top 5 Gateway® Cloning Tips & Tricks

  1. Recovering an entry clone from an expression construct. The efficiency of the BP reaction can be improved by linearizing the expression construct. The BP Clonase® works more efficiently when, at least, one of the substrates is a linear fragment.
  2. Improve the chances to obtain PCR amplified fragments for BP reactions. Relatively short template specific sequence (12-14 mer) improves the chances of amplification success without compromising specificity.
  3. Use destination vectors and entry clones with the same selection marker. It can be performed by linearizing the entry clone with one or more restriction enzymes that do not cut within the insert sequence.
  4. Give a second chance to failed LR or BP reactions. Do not stop the reaction with proteinase K. Instead, after transformation, keep the tube at room temperature and re-transform the following day if necessary.
  5. Speed up the process. Use One Shot® Mach1™-T1R Chemically Competent E. coli cells. Colonies are clearly visible after eight hours of plating. Transformants to be selected on ampicillin plates do not need to be recovered before plating.

Have tips and tricks you use in your lab?


Technology Applied

Algae are are a large, diverse group of simple, Single celled, typically autotrophic organisms.  Photosynthetic algae produce oxygen as a byproduct  and efficiently store solar energy in the form of lipids, making algae a viable candidate biofuel production.  Along with sunlight and warmth, algae utilize CO2 as a source of energy, and can sequester undesirable CO2, such as from power plants.

Other characteristics support algae utilization in commercial processes, including their high biomass yield per acre of cultivation and fast growth.  As a non-food source, algae can grow on cheap, available land and not compete for arable acreage.  Instead of competing for freshwater needs, algae can thrive in brackish water or wastewater, saving drinkable water.  Algae also find commercial use as nutritional supplements, vitamins, food, livestock feed & fodder, cosmetics, fertilizer, soil conditioner, chemicals, perfumes and natural pigments.  Algae can control pollution in sewage and wastewater facilities, reduce CO2 emissions in power plants and capture fertilizers in runoff from farms, among other uses. 

By the 1940s, scientists discovered that algae can produce lipids.  By the Late 40s and early 50s, algae were being considered as a food source.  The 1970s energy crisis provided new life for concept of algae as a fuel source and by the 1980s, commercial development of the microalgae industry began in the form of nutraceuticals.  Fast forward to 2008, when a Continental airlines flight was powered an algae-fueled jet.  In 2012, Life Technologies, in part, sponsored algae-fueled motorcycle in the Baja 1000 and other events, further spurring the concept of algae fueled vehicles.

Despite the commercial promise of algae, several challenges must be overcome for their widespread use.  New synthetic biology technologies may help unlock these hurdles and enable higher growth density, lower cost, optimized growth conditions to prevent overcrowding, optimal species selection, increased lipid production, greater hardiness, improved growth rate, ability to thrive in temperature extremes and the ability to thrive in the presence of competing strains.  Synthetic Biology enables the use of renewable, sustainable feedstocks like algae to produce chemicals, biofuels and other desired products.  SynBio provides “Biofactories” that incorporate optimized hosts, vectors & specialty media to accomplish these goals. 

As a step toward harnessing the power of algae, in late 2011 Life Technologies commercialized the GeneArt® Algae Engineering Kits, as the first all-in-one solution for simplifying algae engineering.  Previously, algae research and production labs relied on poorly characterized, nonoptimized cell stocks and cloning tools for their work.  Preparing growth medium was convoluted and time-consuming, and growth rates and yields from the transformed cells were disappointing.  The new kits for Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Synechococcus elongatus are the first commercially available genetic modification and expression systems for photosynthetic microalgae. 

We have developed algae engineering kits in various configurations.  Whether you’re performing basic research or embarking on a new Bioproduction strategy, you can rely on the optimized and quality-controlled reagents and protocols in the GeneArt® Algae Engineering Kits.  And to see the our tools in action, see recent publications such as Simkovsky et al, PNAS vo. 109 no. 41 pp. 16678-16683

Recently published your data? Share your data with us and we’ll feature it in our newsletter. Email us at

Cloning the Past and Present

Cloning 1-4 fragments has never been quicker or easier. Look at how the newest cloning tools from GeneArt® compare to traditional cloning methods.  Check out this free online tool that guides you through planning, design and assembly for your construct and PCR primer design.

seamless Plus
Click to Enlarge

Innovations in Synthetic Biology Technologies

Synthetic biology is an emerging
discipline that mixes engineering and
biology to construct novel biological
entities with broad applications in
medicine, energy, the environment,
and materials. Innovative tools and
technologies have been developed
for use in strain characterization,
modeling, and engineering
Join us at the BIO International
Convention as both academic and
industrial experts cover the various
methods, technologies, and processes
that have been developed for conducting
synthetic biology–based work for the
enhanced production of biofuels, highvalue
chemicals, and other bio-based

Hot From Social

What does Synthetic Biology mean to you?

Check out this Synthetic Biology word cloud we created using comments from our Facebook fans


synth bio
Click to Enlarge

Did You Know?

New, even faster production time GeneArt® gene synthesis production times are now up to 2 days faster—for example, only 9 days for genes up to 1.2 kb. Our Express service allows us to shorten this time further—down to 7 days. This means you benefit from a processing time, from planning to receiving a 100% accurate sequence, comparable to your required lab time at similar cost. But you gain free optimization for expression, zero effort, and individual flexibility compared to starting with a sequence design from scratch.

Q&A - Gene Synthesis Services

How can I access the progress of my Gene Synthesis project?
Via the portal through the tool MY GENE OBSERVER. The tool provides real time project update in % of completion

What if my organism is not on the drop down menu?
At GeneArt® we have the capabilities to codon optimize your gene to the organism of your choice, however unique it may be. GeneArt has a state of art software that will optimize your gene for expression optimization through improvement of the codon usage as well as sub-cloning into the optimal expression vector for your purpose and system.

Why does the portal sent my sequences to GeneArt scientific review?
Although our fast algorithm is capable of configuring most gene synthesis projects, at times it will require that a scientist look over the project so that we can have the best setup possible for faster delivery time and lowest cost for the customer. Possible reasons for scientific review could be the complexity of the gene (too low or too high GC content, repetitive regions, secondary structures), or a biosafety or biosecurity concern that needs to be clarified.

Can I choose the resistance marker for the production vector?
Absolutely. We can sub-clone your fragments into a production vector with your resistance marker of choice. The cost for the service is USD 50.00/construct

I would like for GeneArt to sub-clone my synthesized gene into an expression vector that I built in my lab. Do you offer such services?
Yes! We can sub-clone your fragments into any vector of your choice. If you choose an Invitrogen vector, all we would need is the vector name as we already have Life Technologies products in house. Should customers wish to use another commercially available vector or home brew, we would ask for the full sequence of the vector and for an aliquot of the product. We will then prepare the materials to our quality control standards and fully sequence it prior to performing the sub-cloning.

Will I have to ship my vector every time I wish for GeneArt to use it for sub-cloning?
We only ask that you send your vector once. All materials will be kept at GeneArt for future use and information about your vector will never be shared or used by another customer.

Have questions to ask us?  Send Us Your Questions

Upcoming Events

Come see us at these upcoming tradeshows & conferences

Event Location  Date
Bioenergy 2013 Releasing Green Bioenergy Nanjing, China April 25–27, 2013
PEGS The Essential Protein Engineering Summit

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

April 29–May 3, 2013
BIO Biotechnology Industry Organization

Montreal, Canada

June 16–19, 2013
BioBricks SB6.0 London, UK July 9-11, 2013