Registry of Standard Biological Parts

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= BioBricks

URL = Wikipedia


"If biology is to morph into an engineering discipline, it is going to need similarly standardized parts, Knight said. So he and colleagues have started a collection of hundreds of interchangeable genetic components they call BioBricks, which students and others are already popping into cells like Lego pieces." [1]

"the tinkering networks we see in the software industry will be mirrored in synbio. Further, the skill sets associated with synthetic biology will be as widely dispersed as software programming is today and the tools will be just as inexpensive/ubiquitous."

- John Robb [2]

Washington Post:

"At the core of synthetic biology's new ascendance are high-speed DNA synthesizers that can produce very long strands of genetic material from basic chemical building blocks: sugars, nitrogen-based compounds and phosphates. Today a scientist can write a long genetic program on a computer just as a maestro might compose a musical score, then use a synthesizer to convert that digital code into actual DNA." (


"The development of well-specified, standard, and interchangable biological parts is a critical step towards the design and construction of integrated biological systems. The MIT Registry of Standard Biological Parts supports this goal by recording and indexing biological parts that are currently being built and offering synthesis and assembly services to construct new parts, devices, and systems. In the future, we hope to expand this support in the areas of standards for biological part families, parameter measurement and quality control, and development of an open community of biological engineers and scientists." (

Status 2008

The Registry Today:

"In the summer of 2004, the Registry contained about 100 basic parts such as operators, protein coding regions, and transcriptional terminators, and devices such as logic gates built from these basic parts. Today the number of parts has increased to about 700 available parts and 2000 defined parts.

The Registry believes in the idea that a standard biological part should be well specified and able to be paired with other parts into subassemblies and whole systems. Once the parameters of these parts are determined and standardized, simulation and design of genetic systems will become easier and more reliable. The parts in the Registry are not simply segments of DNA, they are functional units. Those functions are being specified and parameters measured. Proper interoperation of a family of devices will depend on compatible parameters. For example, consideration of composable system design for gene-expression-based systems has resulted in the specification of a new unit of measurement, PoPS (Polymerase Per Second). PoPS measure the rate of transcription at the boundaries of a part. We are now characterizing parts in terms of PoPS. Assembly of parts into devices and systems is being performed using traditional cloning techniques with a set of restriction sites that allow easy composition of composite devies that, in turn, can themselves be used as parts. Simultaneous parallel assembly lets us build many biological systems quickly.

The Registry hosts a competition for undergraduates to challenge undergraduate students to put to use the idea that biological engineering can be made reliable through the use of standardized, well-documented parts (iGEM). Many of these parts and devices already in the Registry have been developed and used by student teams to build biological systems in past iGEM competitions." (

More Information

  1. Open Biology ; Open Source Biology
  2. DNA Hacking
  3. Video: