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SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY

Harnessing undomesticated life

Only a tiny fraction of bacterial species can be cultured and engineered in the laboratory, limiting our ability to deploy bacteria in harsh environments or use them to produce important compounds. Recent work has opened this frontier by developing new methods to characterize and engineer diverse, undomesticated bacterial species.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Pamela A. Silver.

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Fig. 1: Engineering of ‘wild’ bacteria.