The synthetic kingdom
How will we classify what is natural or unnatural when life is built from scratch? Synthetic Biology is turning to the living kingdoms for its materials library. No more petrochemicals: instead, pick a feature from an existing organism, locate its DNA code and insert it into a biological chassis. From DIY hacked bacteria to entirely artificial, corporate life-forms, engineered life will compute, produce energy, clean up pollution, make self-healing materials, kill pathogens and even do the housework. Meanwhile, we’ll have to add an extra branch to the Tree of Life. The Synthetic Kingdom is part of our new nature.FOODS & PHARMACEUTICALS: COLOURANTS Replacing artificial colours, modified E. coli self-organise into pixel biofilms. Cyan, magenta and yellow come from mutated GREEN FLUORESCENT PROTEIN; while the enzyme that pigments animal hair gives us BLACK.