Harnessing synthetic biology to enhance ocean health

Peter Q. Nguyen, Xiaoning Huang, Daniel S. Collins, James J. Collins, Ting Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Ocean health is faltering, its capability for regeneration and renewal being eroded by a steady pulse of anthropomorphic impacts. Plastic waste has infiltrated all ocean biomes, climate change threatens coral reefs with extinction, and eutrophication has unleashed vast algal blooms. In the face of these challenges, synthetic biology approaches may hold untapped solutions to mitigate adverse effects, repair ecosystems, and put us on a path towards sustainable stewardship of our planet. Leveraging synthetic biology tools would enable innovative engineering approaches to augment the natural adaptive capacity of ocean biological systems to cope with the swiftness of human-induced change. Here, we present a framework for developing synthetic biology solutions for the challenges of plastic pollution, coral bleaching, and harmful algal blooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)860-874
Number of pages15
JournalTrends in Biotechnology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • algal blooms
  • climate change
  • coral bleaching
  • marine biology
  • ocean health
  • plastics degradation
  • pollution
  • synthetic biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology


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