City Research Online

Towards an Aspect-Oriented Design and Modelling Framework for Synthetic Biology

Boeing, P., Leon, M., Nesbeth, D. , Finkelstein, A. ORCID: 0000-0003-2167-9844 & Barnes, C. (2018). Towards an Aspect-Oriented Design and Modelling Framework for Synthetic Biology. Processes, 6(9), article number 9. doi: 10.3390/pr6090167


Work on synthetic biology has largely used a component-based metaphor for system construction. While this paradigm has been successful for the construction of numerous systems, the incorporation of contextual design issues—either compositional, host or environmental—will be key to realising more complex applications. Here, we present a design framework that radically steps away from a purely parts-based paradigm by using aspect-oriented software engineering concepts. We believe that the notion of concerns is a powerful and biologically credible way of thinking about system synthesis. By adopting this approach, we can separate core concerns, which represent modular aims of the design, from cross-cutting concerns, which represent system-wide attributes. The explicit handling of cross-cutting concerns allows for contextual information to enter the design process in a modular way. As a proof-of-principle, we implemented the aspect-oriented approach in the Python tool, SynBioWeaver, which enables the combination, or weaving, of core and cross-cutting concerns. The power and flexibility of this framework is demonstrated through a number of examples covering the inclusion of part context, combining circuit designs in a context dependent manner, and the generation of rule, logic and reaction models from synthetic circuit designs.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Departments: Presidents's Portfolio
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of processes-06-00167-v2.pdf]
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

Download (2MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login