Synthetic multicellular (MC) systems have the capacity to increase our understanding of biofilms and higher organisms, and to serve as engineering platforms for developing complex products in the areas of medicine, biosynthesis and smart materials. Here we provide an interdisciplinary perspective and review on emerging approaches to engineer and model MC systems. We lay out definitions for key terms in the field and identify toolboxes of standardized parts which can be combined into various MC algorithms to achieve specific outcomes. Many essential parts and algorithms have been demonstrated in some form. As key next milestones for the field, we foresee the improvement of these parts and their adaptation to more biological systems, the demonstration of more complex algorithms, the advancement of quantitative modeling approaches and compilers to support rational MC engineering, and implementation of MC engineering for practical applications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology