Our research lines

Harnessing the information-processing capacity of bacteria for new biological devices

Engineered biological circuits

Designing biocircuits to perform predefined functions

Genetic and metabolic networks are like cascades of events triggered by certain inputs, such as environmental signals, to deliver outputs. We design and implement synthetic networks that process inputs into outputs according to predefined rules encoded in the genetics of microbes. This set of rules is equivalent to an algorithm. In other words, we program biocomputations that are tailored to an application or case study in the environmental field. We are currently working with the bacteria E. coli, P. putida, G. sulfurreducens and P. protegens.

Biological complexity: from context to evolution

Understanding how context affect performance

Genetic circuits are much more than DNA sequences and they do not guarantee the same behaviour in different organisms. Their performance is influenced by how the host context interacts with the circuits, something we call contextual dependencies. Our aim is to characterise these interactions and modify the spatial structure of circuits and the extracellular environment to affect their performance without modifying the DNA. Ultimately, we aim to achieve the challenging goal of programming evolutionary dynamics.

Mathematical modelling beyond experiments

Towards a comprehensive understanding of biological systems

How does ribosome jamming alter translation? What are the effects of transcription-translation coupling of circuits? Can multicellular systems be effectively modulated? We use mathematical modelling and computational simulations to better understand how biological systems work. In addition, these tools allow us to design and predict the performance of new biological circuits, as well as to interpret experimental results to refine initial designs.

Standards, automation, and data handling

Committed to synthetic biology standardisation

Our laboratory uses and has contributed to the Standard European Vector Architecture (SEVA) and the Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL). We are developing methods to visualise and edit design information in a user-friendly manner, and we use automation machinery. Ensuring that these and other automation facilities fit our laboratory’s requirements is a task in its own: we write protocols, methods, and calibration scripts, centralise information and engineer our own ad hoc solutions.

Ongoing projects

From evolution to standardisation, we meet the challenges of synthetic biology

ECCO: Evolutionary Cellular Computing for Environmental Synthetic Biology
  • Duration: Oct 2022 – Sep 2027.
  • Funding body: European Research Council (ERC Consolidator Grant).
  • Project number: 101044360
EMMA: Engineering multi-functional microbes for plant-related applications
  • Duration: Sep 2022 – Dec 2025.
  • Funding body: Ministerio de Ciencia / Agencia Estatal de Investigación as part of the Severo Ochoa programm with code CEX2020-000999-S
CONTEXT: Engineering context-aware synthetic biological circuits
  • Duration: Sep 2020 – Sep 2024.
  • Funding body: Comunidad de Madrid.
  • Project number: 2019-T1/BIO-14053
BIOSINT- CM: Biología Sintética Tridimensional en Bacterias de BIocontrol Ambiental
  • Duration: July 2021 – July 2024.
  • Funding body: Comunidad de Madrid.
  • Project number: Y2020/TCS-6555
MULTI-SYSBIO: Implementing social relationships in synthetic multicellular systems to achieve robust and reliable biocomputations
  • Duration: Sep 2021 – Sep 2024.
  • Funding body: Ministerio de Ciencia – Agencia Estatal de Investigación.
  • Project number: PID2020-117205GA-I00

Finished projects

Explore our past research

Fostering Synthetic Biology standardisation through international collaboration
  • Duration: Sep 2018 – Sep 2021.
  • Funding body: European Commission (H2020).
  • Project number: 820699
SynBio3D: Establishing the engineering fundamentals of three-dimensional synthetic biology
  • Duration: Feb 2018 – Aug 2020.
  • Funding body: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
  • Project number: EP/R019002/1