Open Platform for Synthetic Biology Researchers to Share Resources and Tools Gets an Upgrade

Achievement date: 

Updates to the Joint BioEnergy Institute Inventory of Composable Elements (JBEI-ICE) are bringing significant improvements to the Web of Registries supported by the NSF-funded Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc), which is headquartered at the University of California (UC) Berkeley. The SynBERC Registry uses the ICE platform—an open, flexible, and fully featured platform for synthetic biology information storage, retrieval, and manipulation. 


ICE was originally developed by Synberc researchers at UC Berkeley to help fill the need for an open source registry platform for managing information about biological parts. The Synberc Registry was brought up to ICE version 4.0 in early 2015. Because ICE is built on the idea of a Web of Registries, it provides strong support for distributed, interconnected use. In essence, it incentivizes creators to contribute their parts to a shared, integrated design toolkit. 


ICE brings together different synthetic biology software by lowering the barrier of entry and providing a working solution to a big challenge in synthetic biology¾storage of biological parts, such as plasmids, microbial host strains, and seedsto growmodel organisms used in plant biology. Among the improvements in 4.0 are: (1) migration to a modern software interface that makes it easy for third-party tools (commercial and academic) to access available DNA sequence and microbial strain information; and (2) direct browsing of entries located in other registries.


There will continue to be numerous other improvements to ICE in further support of the Web of Registries and of the synthetic biology research community as a whole. In 2015, Synberc applied for an NSF Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) grant to support the Web of Registries.