Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering 2020; 25(6): 974-984  
Genetic Biocontainment Systems for the Safe Use of Engineered Microorganisms
Donghyeon Kim and Jeong Wook Lee
Donghyeon Kim, Jeong Wook Lee*
Department of Chemical Engineering, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang 37673, Korea
Tel: +82-54-279-2337; Fax: +82-54-279-5528
Jeong Wook Lee
School of Interdisciplinary Bioscience and Bioengineering, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang 37673, Korea
Received: March 8, 2020; Revised: May 24, 2020; Accepted: May 26, 2020; Published online: December 31, 2020.
© The Korean Society for Biotechnology and Bioengineering. All rights reserved.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Recent advances in genetic engineering and synthetic biology have enabled a variety of genetically modified microorganisms (GMOs) designed for open environmental applications. The use of GMOs in these applications, however, raised concerns about the spread of artificial biological matters into the natural environment. To address the issue, genetic biocontainment system has emerged as a way to prevent unauthorized propagation of GMOs and genetic materials into the ecosystem. In this review, we introduce biocontainment systems that control the proliferation of microorganisms and the release of genetic materials, focusing primarily on genetic means to eliminate cells and DNA. We outline each biocontainment system with representative examples, highlighting its advantages and disadvantages. We also discuss future challenges that genetic biocontainment systems should overcome for practical uses.
Keywords: synthetic biology, biocontainment, genetically modified organism, auxotrophy, xenobiology

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