Synthetic biology builds upon genetics, molecular biology, and metabolic engineering by applying engineering principles to the design of biological systems. When designing a synthetic system, synthetic biologists need to exchange information about multiple types of molecules, the intended behavior of the system, and actual experimental measurements. The Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL) has been developed as a standard to support the specification and exchange of biological design information in synthetic biology, following an open community process involving both wet bench scientists and dry scientific modelers and software developers, across academia, industry, and other institutions. This document describes SBOL 3.0.0, which condenses and simplifies previous versions of SBOL based on experiences in deployment across a variety of scientific and industrial settings. In particular, SBOL 3.0.0, (1) separates sequence features from part/sub-part relationships, (2) renames Component Definition/Component to Component/Sub-Component, (3) merges Component and Module classes, (4) ensures consistency between data model and ontology terms, (5) extends the means to define and reference Sub-Components, (6) refines requirements on object URIs, (7) enables graph-based serialization, (8) moves Systems Biology Ontology (SBO) for Component types, (9) makes all sequence associations explicit, (10) makes interfaces explicit, (11) generalizes Sequence Constraints into a general structural Constraint class, and (12) expands the set of allowed constraints.
People who are engineering biological organisms often find it useful to communicate in diagrams, both about the structure of the nucleic acid sequences that they are engineering and about the functional relationships between sequence features and other molecular species. Some typical practices and conventions have begun to emerge for such diagrams. The Synthetic Biology Open Language Visual (SBOL Visual) has been developed as a standard for organizing and systematizing such conventions in order to produce a coherent language for expressing the structure and function of genetic designs. This document details version 2.2 of SBOL Visual, which builds on the prior SBOL Visual 2.1 in several ways. First, the grounding of molecular species glyphs is changed from BioPAX to SBO, aligning with the use of SBO terms for interaction glyphs. Second, new glyphs are added for proteins, introns, and polypeptide regions (e. g., protein domains), the prior recommended macromolecule glyph is deprecated in favor of its alternative, and small polygons are introduced as alternative glyphs for simple chemicals.
As improvements in DNA synthesis technology and assembly methods make combinatorial assembly of genetic constructs increasingly accessible, methods for representing genetic constructs likewise need to improve to handle the exponential growth of combinatorial design space. To this end, we present a community accepted extension of the SBOL data standard that allows for the efficient and flexible encoding of combinatorial designs. This extension includes data structures for representing genetic designs with “variable” components that can be implemented by choosing one of many linked designs for existing genetic parts or constructs. We demonstrate the representational power of the SBOL combinatorial design extension through case studies on metabolic pathway design and genetic circuit design, and we report the expansion of the SBOLDesigner software tool to support users in creating and modifying combinatorial designs in SBOL.