Introduction to SBOL

SBOL is…

An open standard for the representation of in silico biological designs.
SBOL provides a data format composed of genetic vocabulary terms called SBOL Data.
SBOL also provides schematic glyphs to graphically depict genetic designs called SBOL Visual.
SBOL is intended for users and software developers involved in the biology community and scientist working within a wet lab.


If you want to design genetic constructs and biological systems, you might want to look at the software tools that support SBOL.

SBOL-supporting tools ensures lossless data conversion when moving between tools. SBOL also allows you to describe more complex design information than traditional sequence representation of a genetic circuit.

Wet Lab

If you work in a wet lab, consider storing your genetic part and construct designs in the growing number of repositories that support SBOL to allow other researchers easy access and reuse of your designs in their projects.

Try having a look at the iGEM Registry of Standard Biological Parts, the Joint BioEnergy Institute’s Inventory of Composable Elements (ICE), the SynBioHub, Benchling, and the Standard Virtual Parts Repository.

Software Development

If you are a software developer, you should consider adding SBOL support to your software using one of the SBOL libraries. Adding SBOL support to your software allows your tools to interoperate with the growing ecosystem of software tools that support SBOL.

Feature Request

You can propose your feature request to the SBOL data model or to SBOL visual glyphs by submitting an SEP to our Github repositories. Live discussions amongst the SBOL community is going on now! You can view and comment on the discussions by clicking on the open GitHub issues.

Weekly Update

Weekly Update

Nov. 15th, 2017

iGEM 2017 Competition:

The iGEM 2017 competition took place on Nov. 9th – Nov 13th.
The iGEM 2017 competition featured an SBOL workshop where students had the opportunity to learn about SBOL and tools that support SBOL.


Dates and location for COMBINE 2018 has been release.
COMBINE 2018 will be located in Boston, MA on Oct. 8th – 12th, 2018.

SBOL makes a traditional appearance every year at the COMBINE conference to join other biological standard communities to present talks, posters and have live discussions about the standards during breakout sessions.

Mark your calendar! This conference is open to the public and we encourage everyone to join us next year.

SBOL Data:

SEP 18: Attachment [Info] [Vote Now] Closing Nov. 22!
SEP 19 : Using SBOL to model the Design-Build-Test Learn Cycle [Info] [Discussion]

Voting form for SEP 19 has been postponed and will be released soon. Some adjustments will be made to address some concerns that was raised by the community.

The SBOL developers for the libSBOLj library are implementing support for experimental data, prov-o, and combinatorial design. If you are interested in these features, you can track the progress here.

SBOL Visual:

All votes are in. Here are all the SBOL Visual SEPs that are accepted and will be considered for the next release of SBOL Visual 2.0.
We would like to thank everyone in the community who voted.

SEP V001 : Bounding box, interior, backbone alignment, and relative scale [Info]
SEP V002 : Alternative Glyphs [Info]
SEP V003 : Distinguishing Unknown [Info]
SEP V004: Non-Coding RNA Gene Glyph [Info]
SEP V005: Ambiguities and Variants [Info]
SEP V006: No Glyph Assigned [Info]
SEP V007 : Stem-Top Glyphs [Info]
SEP V008 : Functional Component Glyphs [Info]
SEP V009: Engineering Region vs. Composite [Info]
SEP V010 : Arrows [Info]

Robert Sidney Cox III
James McLaughlin
Tramy Nguyen
Nic Roehner
Curtis Madsen


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