Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Synthetic Biology for Terraformation: Lessons from Mars, Earth and the Microbiome

Version 1 : Received: 28 December 2019 / Approved: 29 December 2019 / Online: 29 December 2019 (13:23:07 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Conde-Pueyo, N.; Vidiella, B.; Sardanyés, J.; Berdugo, M.; Maestre, F.T.; De Lorenzo, V.; Solé, R. Synthetic Biology for Terraformation Lessons from Mars, Earth, and the Microbiome. Life 2020, 10, 14. Conde-Pueyo, N.; Vidiella, B.; Sardanyés, J.; Berdugo, M.; Maestre, F.T.; De Lorenzo, V.; Solé, R. Synthetic Biology for Terraformation Lessons from Mars, Earth, and the Microbiome. Life 2020, 10, 14.

Journal reference: Life 2020, 10
DOI: 10.3390/life10020014

Abstract

What is the potential for synthetic biology as a way of engineering, on a large scale, complex ecosystems? Can it be used to change endangered ecological communities and rescue them to prevent their collapse? What are the best strategies for such ecological engineering paths to succeed? Is it possible to create stable, diverse synthetic ecosystems capable of persisting in closed environments? Can synthetic communities be created to thrive on planets different from ours? These and other questions pervade major future developments within synthetic biology. The goal of engineering ecosystems is plagued with all kinds of technological, scientific and ethic problems. In this paper we consider the requirements for Terraformation, i. e. for changing a given environment to make it hospitable to some given class of life forms. Although the standard use of this term involved strategies for planetary terraformation, it has been recently suggested that this approach could be applied to a very different context: ecological communities within our own planet. As discussed here, this includes multiple scales, from the gut microbiome to the entire biosphere.

Subject Areas

terraformation; Mars; evolution; microbiome; synthetic biology; drylands; hypercycles; restoration ecology

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