Synthetic Biology

The Vickers Group, led by Group Leader Associate Professor Claudia Vickers, applies synthetic biology approaches to answer key fundamental biological questions and to develop/improve industrial bio-processes. In particular, they are interested in using biology to replace current industrial practices (largely based on finite petrochemical resources) with sustainable, environmentally friendly processes. To this end, they use the tools of systems and synthetic biology for metabolic engineering of organisms. Metabolic engineering is the rational redesign of organisms for production of specific industrially-useful compounds.

The Group is particularly interested in a large group of natural products called isoprenoids. Isoprenoids have many different biological functions, and they also have a multitude of biotechnological applications (e.g. biofuels, agricultural chemicals, flavours, fragrances, pharmaceuticals, and food additives).

Research Highlights

The Vickers group currently works in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), Escherichia coli, cyanobacteria (Synechocystis and Synechococcus spp.), Pseudomonas putida, and plants (various species).  These diverse areas are linked though application of synthetic biology to understand fundamental biology, and applying this understanding to industrial bioprocesses.

The group is experienced in working closely with colleagues in other disciplines and with a wide range companies interested in pursuing emerging opportunities in these fields.



We have developed a variety of synthetic biology tools to facilitate engineering and more general investigation in many different species. All plasmids are available from Addgene here. Software and other tools available at the links in the sections below.