Bottom-up biology

How is that a multitude of different molecules within a lipid envelope all come together to carry out the basic functions required to sustain organisms? Conventionally, biologists have worked from the top down to dissect how components in cells interact in their natural environment. But now technical advances are allowing researchers to take a different tack: using engineering principles to reconstruct biological processes from the bottom up. This special issue explores the potential and possible limits of bottom-up cell biology.