Synthetic biology is a new and emerging technology in which new or redesigned biological systems can be created for useful purposes. Based on fundamental knowledge in biological and biophysical chemistry, molecular and cell biology, we can engineer enzymes, metabolic pathways and regulatory elements to program microbes to produce valuable chemicals and fuel. As Thailand is an agricultural country, research into this area can create tremendous value from agricultural waste and help in sustainable economic development by reducing dependence on imported and fossil fuels.
Biorefinery is a concept of using biological systems to convert biomass or agricultural waste into bioenergy and valuable materials. This research area is very important for future Thai economy and sustainable development because it can convert low value biomass derived from agricultural industries into bio-based products for food, feed, chemicals and materials industries, and biofuels. As the use of biological systems does not require high energy or toxic chemicals, the production process based on this technology is green technology which is good for the environment.
SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY AT VISTEC
Our research team at VISTEC aims to use state-of-the-art technologies in the areas of enzyme and metabolic engineering, pathway design, metabolomics and cell factories to allow assembly of new pathways in selected host cells. The engineered cells are programmed to use agricultural feedstock such as waste from palm oil and cassava industries to turn it into hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals such as monomers for bioplastics.