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We research and develop new tools and methods  that accelerate synthetic genomics and all aspects of parts-based synthetic biology. 
We have major projects in baker's yeast on genome engineering, genome synthesis and generative DNA sequence design. We use yeast and other microbes to achieve programmable sensing, signalling and multicellularity. 
We use synthetic biology in bacteria and yeasts to grow novel patterned and functional biomaterials and to advance the topic of Engineered Living Materials (ELMs) 


  • P Montenegro-Silva, Ellis T, Dourado F, Gama M, Domingues L (2024). Enhanced bacterial cellulose production in Komagataeibacter sucrofermentans: impact of different PQQ-dependent dehydrogenase knockouts and ethanol supplementation. Biotechnology for Biofuels and Bioproducts 17 (1), 1-16

  • D Schindler, RSK Walker, S Jiang, AN Brooks, Y Wang, CA Müller, C Cockram, et al. (2023). Design, Construction, and Functional Characterization of a tRNA Neochromosome in Yeast.      Cell 186 (24), 5237-5253. e22

  • BA Blount, X Lu, MRM Driessen, D Jovicevic, MI Sanchez, K Ciurkot, Y Zhao, S Lauer, RM McKiernan, GOF Gowers, F Sweeney, V Fanfani, E Lobzaev, K Palacios-Flores, RSK Walker, A Hesketh, SG Oliver, Y Cai, G Stracquadanio, LA Mitchell, JS Bader, JD Boeke, T Ellis (2023). Synthetic yeast chromosome XI design provides a testbed for the study of extrachromosomal circular DNA dynamics. Cell Genomics, 3 (11)

  • WM Shaw, AS Khalil, Ellis T (2023). A Multiplex MoClo Toolkit for Extensive and Flexible Engineering of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. ACS Synthetic Biology 12 (11), 3393

  • F Meng, T Ellis (2023). Deciphering the Evolutionary Adaptations of Life with a Minimal Genome. GEN Biotechnology 2 (4), 285-286

  • H Peng, R Chen, WM Shaw, P Hapeta, W Jiang, DJ Bell, T Ellis, R Ledesma-Amaro (2023). Modular Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Coculture Strategies for the Production of Aromatic Compounds in Yeast. ACS Synthetic Biology 12, 6, 1739

  • Xu X, Meier F, Blount BA, IS Pretorius, Ellis T, Paulsen IT, Williams TC (2023). Trimming the genomic fat: minimising and re-functionalising genomes using synthetic biology. Nature Communications 14 (1), 1984

  • Shaw WM, Zhang Y, Lu X, Khalil, AS Ladds G, Luo X, Ellis T (2022). Screening microbially produced Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol using a yeast biosensor workflow. Nature Communications 13 (1), 5509

  • J Caro-Astorga, KY Lee, T Ellis (2022) Increasing bacterial cellulose compression resilience with glycerol or PEG400 for robuster engineered living materials. Carbohydrate Polymer Technologies and Applications 100245

  • WM Shaw, L Studená, K Roy, P Hapeta, NS McCarty, AE Graham, T Ellis, R Ledesma-Amaro (2022) Inducible expression of large gRNA arrays for multiplexed CRISPRai applications. Nature Communications 13 (1), 1-10

  • J Caro-Astorga, T Ellis (2022) Self-healing through adhesion. Nature Chemical Biology 18 (3), 239

  • Goosens V, Walker KT, Aragon SM, Singh A, Senthivel VR, Dekker L, Caro-Astorga J, Buat MLA, Song W, Lee KY, Ellis T (2022) Komagataeibacter Tool Kit (KTK): A Modular Cloning System for Multigene Constructs and Programmed Protein Secretion from Cellulose Producing Bacteria. ACS Synthetic Biology 10 (12), 3422

  • Caro-Astorga J, Walker KT, Herrera N, Lee KY, Ellis T (2021) Bacterial cellulose spheroids as building blocks for 3D and patterned living materials and for regeneration. Nature Communications 12 (1), 1-9

  • Gallup O, Ming H, Ellis T (2021) Ten future challenges for synthetic biology. IET Engineering Biology 5 (3), 51

  • Lu X, Ellis T (2021) Self-replicating digital data storage with synthetic chromosomes. National Science Review 8 (7), nwab086

  • Di Blasi R, Zouein A, Ellis T, Ceroni F (2021) Genetic Toolkits to Design and Build Mammalian. Trends in Biotechnology 39 (10), 1004

  • Gilbert C, Tang TC, Ott W, Dorr BA, Shaw WM, Sun GL, Lu TK, Ellis T (2021). Living materials with programmable functionalities grown from engineered microbial co-cultures. Nature Materials 20 (5), 691

  • Zorzan I, López AR, Malyshava A, Ellis T, Barberis M (2020). Synthetic designs regulating cellular transitions: fine-tuning of switches and oscillators. Current Opinion in Systems Biology 25, 11

  • Singh A, Walker KT, Ledesma-Amaro R, Ellis T (2020). Engineering Bacterial Cellulose by Synthetic Biology. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 21 (23), 9185

  • Liberante FG, Ellis T (2020). From kilobases to megabases: design and delivery of large DNA constructs into mammalian genomes. Current Opinion in Systems Biology 25, 1

  • Meng F, Ellis T (2020). The second decade of synthetic biology: 2010–2020. Nature Communications 11, 5174

  • Gowers GOF, Chee SM, Bell D, Suckling L, Kern M, Tew D, McClymont DW, Ellis T (2020). Improved betulinic acid biosynthesis using synthetic yeast chromosome recombination and semi-automated rapid LC-MS screening. Nature Communications 11, 868

  • Ostrov N, Beal J, Ellis T, Gordon DB, Karas BJ, Lee HH, Lenaghan SC, Schloss JA, Stracquadanio G, Trefzer A, Bader JS, Church GM, et al. (2019). Technological challenges and milestones for writing genomes. Science 366 (6463), 310-312

  • Gowers GOF, Vince O, Charles JH, Klarenberg I, Ellis T, Edwards A (2019). Entirely Off-Grid and Solar-Powered DNA Sequencing of Microbial Communities during an Ice Cap Traverse Expedition. Genes 10 (11), 902

  • Gowers GOF, Cameron SJS, Perdones-Montero A, Bell D, Chee SM, Kern M, Tew D, Ellis T, Takats Z (2019). Off-colony screening of biosynthetic libraries by rapid laser-enabled mass spectrometry. ACS Synthetic Biology 8 (11), 2566-2575

  • Ellis T (2019). What is synthetic genomics anyway? The Biochemist 41 (3), 6-9

  • Det-udom R, Gilbert G, Liu L, Prakitchaiwattana C, Ellis T, Ledesma-Amaro R (2019). Towards semi-synthetic microbial communities: enhancing soy sauce fermentation properties in B. subtilis co-cultures. Microbial Cell Factories, 18 (1), 101

  • Blount BA, Ellis T (2019). Genome Construction Amends Building Codes. Nature 569 (7757), 492-494

  • McCarty NS, Shaw WM, Ellis T, Ledesma-Amaro R (2019). Rapid Assembly of gRNA Arrays via Modular Cloning in Yeast. ACS Synthetic Biology, 8 (4), 906-910

  • Shaw WM, Yamauchi H, Mead J, Gowers G-OF, Bell D Öling D, Larsson N, Wigglesworth M, Ladds G, Ellis T (2019). Engineering a model cell for rational tuning of GPCR signaling. Cell, 177 (3), 782-796. e27

  • Boo A, Ellis T, Stan GB (2019). Host-aware synthetic biology. Current Opinion in Systems Biology, March 2019

  • Ellis T (2019). Predicting how evolution will beat us. Microbial Biotechnology, 12 (1), 41


  • Gilbert C, Ellis T (2019). Biological Engineered Living Materials–growing functional materials with genetically-programmable properties. ACS Synthetic Biology, 8 (1), 1-15

  • Blount BA, Ellis T (2018). The Synthetic Genome Summer Course. OUP Synthetic Biology, Nov 2018

  • Walker KT, Goosens VJ, Das A, Graham AE, Ellis T (2018). Engineered cell-to-cell signalling within growing bacterial cellulose pellicles. Microbial Biotechnology, Nov 2018

  • Gorochowski TE, Ellis T (2018) Designing efficient translation. Nature Biotechnology, 36 (10) 934

  • Weenink T, Van Der Hilst J, McKiernan RM, Ellis T (2018). Design of RNA Hairpin Modules that Predictably Tune Translation in Yeast. OUP Synthetic Biology, Online Oct 2018

  • Rajakumar PD, Gowers G-OF, Suckling L, Foster A, Ellis T, Kitney RI, McClymont DW, Freemont PS. (2018). Rapid Prototyping Platform for Saccharomyces cerevisiae Using Computer-Aided Genetic Design Enabled by Parallel Software and Workcell Platform Development. SLAS Technology. Online August 2018

  • Öling D, Lawenius L, Shaw WM, Clark S, Kettleborough R, Ellis T, Larsson N, Wigglesworth M (2018). Large scale synthetic site saturation GPCR libraries reveal novel mutations that alter glucose signalling. ACS Synthetic Biology. Online August 2018

  • Rapid host strain improvement by in vivo rearrangement of a synthetic yeast chromosome. BA Blount, G-OF Gowers, JCH Ho, R Ledesma-Amaro, D Jovicevic, RM McKiernan, ZX Xie, BZ Li, YJ Yuan, T Ellis. Nature Communications, May 2018. DOI link 

  • Cell-free prediction of protein expression costs for growing cells. O Borkowski, C Bricio, M Murgiano, B Rothschild-Mancinelli, GB Stan, T Ellis. Nature Communications April 2018. DOI link    Preprint Link

  • Burden-driven feedback control of gene expression. F Ceroni, A Boo, S Furini, TE Gorochowski, O Borkowski, YN Ladak, AR Awan, C Gilbert, GB Stan, T Ellis. Nature Methods April 2018. DOI link     Preprint Link

  • The challenges facing synthetic biology in eukaryotes. F Ceroni & T Ellis. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, April 2018. DOI link

  • Construction of hybrid regulated mother-specific yeast promoters for inducible differential gene expression. G Pothoulakis, T Ellis. PLoS ONE  Mar 2018. 13(3): e0194588 DOI link  

  • Synthetic gene regulation for independent external induction of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae pseudohyphal growth phenotype. G Pothoulakis, T Ellis. Communications Biology Jan 2018. 1:7. DOI link   

  • A transatlantic perspective on 20 emerging issues in biological engineering. BC Wintle et al. eLife. Nov 2017. 6: e30247. DOI link     

  • Synthetic Genome Engineering Gets Infectious. LA Mitchell, T Ellis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. Oct 2017. 114(42): 11006–11008. DOI link

  • Biosynthesis of the Antibiotic Nonribosomal Peptide Penicillin in Baker’s Yeast. AR Awan, BA Blount, DJ Bell, WM Shaw, JCH Ho, RM McKiernan, T Ellis. Nature Communications. 8, 15202, May 2017. DOI link    

  • Extracellular self-assembly of functional and tunable protein conjugates from Bacillus subtilis. C Gilbert, M Howarth, C Harwood, T Ellis, ACS Synthetic Biology. Accepted, February 2017. DOI Link    

  • Synthetic Biology in Europe. Special Issue Editorial. T Ellis, Y Cai. ACS Synthetic Biology, 5 (10), 1033-1033, October 2016. DOI Link   

  • BASIC: A Simple and Accurate Modular DNA Assembly Method. M Storch, A Casini, B Mackrow, T Ellis and GS Baldwin. Methods in Molecular Biology 1472, 79-91, September 2016. DOI Link  Book Chapter

  • Sensing the Right Time to Be Productive. F Ceroni, BA Blount, T Ellis. Cell Systems 3 (2), 116-117, August 2016. DOI Link   

  • Overloaded and stressed: whole-cell considerations for bacterial synthetic biology. O Borkowski, F Ceroni, GB Stan, T Ellis. Current Opinion in Microbiology, 33, 123-130, August 2016. DOI Link   

  • On the record with E. coli DNA. O Borkowski, C Gilbert, T Ellis. Science, 353 (6298), 444-445, July 2016. DOI Link   

  • The Geobacillus plasmid set: a modular toolkit for thermophile engineering. B Reeve, E Martinez-Klimova, J De Jonghe, DJ Leak, T Ellis. ACS Synthetic Biology,  June 2016. DOI Link   

  • Engineering control of bacterial cellulose production using a genetic toolkit and a new cellulose-producing strain. M Florea, H Hagemann, G Santosa, J Abbott, CN Micklem, X Spencer-Milnes, L de Arroyo Garcia, D Paschou, C Lazenbatt, D Kong, H Chughtai, K Jensen, PS Freemont, R Kitney, B Reeve, T Ellis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. June 2016. 113(24): E3431–E3440  PubMed Central OA Paper

  • GC Preps: Fast and Easy Extraction of Stable Yeast Genomic DNA. BA Blount, MRM Driessen, T Ellis. Scientific Reports, May 2016. 6: 26863   PubMed Central OA Paper

  • Biosynthesis of therapeutic natural products using synthetic biology. AR Awan, WM Shaw, T Ellis. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, April 2016 DOI Link   

  • A protease-based biosensor for the detection of schistosome cercariae. AJ Webb, R Kelwick, MJ Doenhoff, N Kylilis, JT MacDonald, KY Wen, C McKeown, G Baldwin, T Ellis, K Jensen, PS Freemont. Scientific Reports, April 2016. 6: 24725  PubMed Central OA Paper

  • Genome sequence and plasmid transformation of the model high-yield bacterial cellulose producer Gluconacetobacter hansenii ATCC 53582. M Florea, B Reeve, J Abbott, PS Freemont, T Ellis. Scientific Reports, March 2016. 6: 23635   PubMed Central OA Paper

  • Bricks and blueprints: methods and standards for DNA assembly. Casini A, Storch M, Baldwin GS, Ellis T. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, June 2015 DOI Link   

  • Quantifying cellular capacity identifies gene expression designs with reduced burden. Ceroni F, Algar R, Stan GB, Ellis T. Nature Methods, April 2015 DOI Link  

  • BASIC: a new Biopart Assembly Standard for Idempotent Cloning provides accurate, single-tier DNA assembly for synthetic biology. Storch M, Casini A, Mackrow B, Fleming T, Trewhitt H, Ellis T, Baldwin GS. ACS Synthetic Biology, March 2015 DOI Link 

  • Expression-level dependent perturbation of cell proteostasis and nuclear morphology by aggregation-prone polyglutamine proteins. Lu M, Williamson N, Boschetti C, Ellis T, Yoshimi T, Tunnacliffe A. Biotechnology and Bioengineering. April 2015 DOI Link 

  • Using Spinach Aptamer to Correlate mRNA and Protein Levels in Escherichia coli. Pothoulakis G, Ellis T. Methods in Enzymology v550, Jan 2015 DOI Link  Book Chapter

  • How synthetic biology will reconsider natural bioluminescence and its applications. Reeve B, Sanderson T, Ellis T, Freemont P. Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol. 2145:3-30, Sep 2014 DOI Link  Book Chapter

  • Total synthesis of a eukaryotic chromosome: Redesigning and SCRaMbLE-ing yeast. Jovicevic D, Blount BA, Ellis T. Bioessays, Aug 2014 DOI Link  

  • GeneGuard: A Modular Plasmid System Designed for Biosafety. Wright O, Delmans M, Stan GB, Ellis T. ACS Synthetic Biology, May 2014 DOI Link  

  • The Sixth International Meeting on Synthetic Biology (SB6.0) Special Issue Editorial. Cai Y & Ellis T. ACS Synthetic Biology, Mar 2014 DOI Link  

  • R2oDNA Designer: Computational Design of Biologically Neutral Synthetic DNA Sequences. Casini A,Christodoulou G, Freemont P, Baldwin GS, Ellis T, Macdonald JT. ACS Synthetic Biology, Jan 2014 DOI Link  

  • Predicting translation initiation rates for designing synthetic biology. Reeve B, Hargest T, Gilbert C, Ellis T. Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol, Jan 2014 DOI Link  

  • One-pot DNA construction for synthetic biology: the Modular Overlap-Directed Assembly with Linkers (MODAL) strategy. Casini A, Macdonald JT, De Jonghe J, Christodoulou G, Freemont P, Baldwin GS, Ellis T. Nucleic Acids Research, Oct 2013 DOI Link 

  • Modelling the burden caused by gene expression: an in silico investigation into the interactions between synthetic gene circuits and their chassis cell. Algar R, Ellis T, Stan GB. arXiv Q-Bio, Sep 2013 DOI Link  

  • Creation and characterization of component libraries for synthetic biology. Weenink T, Ellis T. Methods in Molecular Biology, 2013, Vol 1073, Page 51 DOI Link  Book chapter

  • Characterisation of genetic control elements for synthetic biology using the Spinach RNA aptamer. Pothoulakis G, Ceroni F, Reeve B, Ellis T. ACS Synthetic Biology, Sept 2013 DOI Link  

  • Engineering of regulated stochastic cell fate determination. Wu W, Su RQ, Ellis T, Lai YC, Wang X. PNAS USA, 2013, Vol 110, Page 10610 DOI Link  

  • Building-in Biosafety for Synthetic Biology. Wright O, Stan GB, Ellis T. Microbiology, 2013, Vol 159, Page 1221 DOI Link  

  • Rational Diversification of a Promoter Providing Fine-Tuned Expression and Orthogonal Regulation for Synthetic Biology. Blount BA, Weenink T, Vasylechko S, Ellis T. PLoS One, 2012, Vol 7, Page e33279 DOI Link  

  • Construction of synthetic regulatory networks in yeast. Blount BA, Weenink T, Ellis T. FEBS Letters, 2012, Vol 586, Page 2112 DOI Link  

  • DNA assembly for synthetic biology: from parts to pathways and beyond. Ellis T, Adie T, Baldwin GS. Integrative Biology, 2011, Vol 3, Page 109DOI Link  

  • Diversity-based, model-guided construction of synthetic gene networks with predicted functions. Ellis T, Wang X, Collins JJ. Nature Biotechnology, 2009, Vol 27, Page 465 DOI Link  

  • Synthesis and screening of regulatory component libraries for synthetic biology. Ellis T. Nature Protocols, 2009 DOI Link  

  • Gene regulation: hacking the network on a sugar high. Ellis T, Wang X, Collins JJ. Molecular Cell, 2008, Vol 30, Page 1 DOI Link  



Will Shaw

Submitted: Oct 2018

Started: Oct 2014

Refactoring yeast signalling pathways for tunable extracellular biosensing


Tim Weenink

Submitted: Nov 2016

Started: Oct 2012

Expanding the regulatory repertoire available for synthetic genetic circuits in S. cerevisiae


Benjamin Reeve

Submitted: Mar 2016

Started: Oct 2011

Geobacillus thermoglucosidans as a Thermophile Chassis for Synthetic Biology


Elena Martinez-Kimova

Submitted: Dec 2014

Started: Jan 2011

Synthetic biology approaches to the metabolic engineering of Geobacillus thermoglucosidans for isobutanol production


Rhys J Algar

Submitted: Nov 2013

Started: Oct 2010

Understanding, characterising, and modelling the interactions between synthetic genetic circuits and their host chassis


Charlie Gilbert

Submitted: April 2018

Started: Oct 2014

Synthetic biology approaches for engineered living materials


George Pothoulakis

Submitted: Sept 2016

Started: Oct 2012

Organised Natural Structures using Synthetic Biology


Dejana Jovicevic

Submitted: Mar 2016

Started: Apr 2012

Developing a Synthetic Yeast for the Expression of Heterologous Genes using SCRaMbLE


Arturo Casini

Submitted: Sept 2014

Started: Oct 2010

Advanced DNA assembly strategies and standards for synthetic biology

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