Chapter 3. Fundamentals of DNA Engineering


The tools that are available to you for building often define engineering outcomes. For example, new construction equipment like cranes made it possible to build skyscrapers, and ever-improving transistors have made our computers run faster and faster. In this chapter we consider a key tool for synthetic biology, namely the engineering of DNA. If we want our fluency in writing genetic code to match our fluency in other programming languages, there must be ways to write, compile, and debug DNA code with ease. In this chapter, we consider how the engineering technique of standardization can help meet that goal and how the current tools for DNA engineering work and fit in that context.

Framing the Discussion

Easy does it. Take it easy. Easy as pie.


Cultural idioms that equate “easy” with “happy” are everywhere. We seem to yearn for a life with fewer challenges, and for a time when things work effortlessly. Who wouldn’t want that? It turns out, however, that it’s not simple to make things easy. As an example, think about the ubiquitous automatic dishwasher appliance. At last count dishwashers are found in around 85 percent of American homes, despite the fact that we can accomplish the same task with just our hands, some hot water, and ...

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