First Minimal Synthetic Bacterial Cell Designed and Constructed by Scientists at Venter Institute and Synthetic Genomics, Inc.

La Jolla, CA — March 24, 2016 — Researchers from Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI) and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) announced today the design and construction of the first minimal synthetic bacterial cell, JCVI-syn3.0. Using the first synthetic cell, Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 (created by this same team in 2010), JCVI-syn3.0 was developed through a design, build, and test process using genes from JCVI-syn1.0. The new minimal synthetic cell contains 531,560 base pairs and just 473 genes, making it the smallest genome of any organism that can be grown in laboratory media. By comparison the first synthetic cell, M. mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 has 1.08 million base pairs and 901 genes.

A paper describing this research is being published in the March 25 print version of the journal Science by lead author Clyde A. Hutchison, III, Ph.D., senior author J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., and senior team of Hamilton O. Smith, MD, Daniel G. Gibson, Ph.D., and John I. Glass, Ph.D.

The team concludes that a major outcome of this minimal cell program are new tools and semi-automated processes for whole genome synthesis. Many of these synthetic biology tools are commercially accessible through kits, instruments and services provided by SGI and SGI-DNA including a synthetic DNA construction service specializing in building large and complex DNA fragments including combinatorial gene libraries, Archetype® genomics software, Gibson Assembly® kits, and the BioXp™ 3200 System, which is a benchtop instrument for producing accurate synthetic DNA fragments.

“This paper signifies a major step toward our ability to design and build synthetic organisms from the bottom up with predictable outcomes. The tools and knowledge gained from this work will be essential to producing next generation production platforms for a wide range of disciplines,” said Dr. Gibson, Vice President, DNA Technologies, SGI; Associate Professor, JCVI.

This work, in combination with the long legacy of “world’s first” innovations from SGI and JCVI, positions Synthetic Genomics to revolutionize genomic research and reinvent cell-based production processes. For decades, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, alternative energy, nutritional and bio-chemical companies have relied on legacy host systems to produce bio-based products and therapies. The design and construction of the first minimal cell lays the foundation for SGI and our partners to design and build biological systems for purpose, thus enabling improvements to existing products as well as the creation of novel solutions to solve global sustainability challenges.

”This important milestone lays the foundation to rationally design and engineer bio-based production systems. For example, we see a very large opportunity to revolutionize the discovery and manufacture of life-saving medicines produced biologically, an ever increasing portion of today’s most innovative medicines” said Oliver Fetzer, SGI CEO.

The press release from our collaboration partner, JCVI, can be found at:

Video of JCVI-syn3.0 can be found here:

About Synthetic Genomics
Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI), located in La Jolla, CA, is a leader in the fields of synthetic biology and synthetic genomics, advancing genomics to better life. SGI applies its intellectual property in this rapidly evolving field to design and build biological systems solving global sustainability challenges. SGI serves three end markets: research, bioproduction, and applied products. The company’s research offerings, commercialized through its subsidiary SGI-DNA, are revolutionizing science and medicine with next-generation genomic solutions, including the world’s first DNA printer. SGI applies its integrated synthetic biology capabilities to reinvent bio-based production by improving existing production systems and developing novel, optimized production hosts. SGI develops its applied products, typically in partnership with leading global organizations, across a variety of industries including sustainable bio-fuels, sustainable crops, nutritional supplements, vaccines, and transplantable organs.

About J. Craig Venter Institute
The JCVI is a not-for-profit research institute in Rockville, MD and La Jolla, CA dedicated to the advancement of the science of genomics; the understanding of its implications for society; and communication of those results to the scientific community, the public, and policymakers. Founded by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., the JCVI is home to approximately 200 scientists and staff with expertise in human and evolutionary biology, genetics, bioinformatics/informatics, information technology, high-throughput DNA sequencing, genomic and environmental policy research, and public education in science and science policy. The JCVI is a 501 (c)(3) organization. For additional information, please visit

Media Contacts

Heather Kowalski

Ben Chiarelli, VP of Corporate Development and Strategy