(567an) Metabolic Engineering of Pathways in Cyanobacteria Synechocystis PCC 6803

Cheah, Y. E., Colorado State University
Peebles, C. A. M., Colorado State University

Foreign oil dependence and climate change are major factors contributing to the investment in biofuels research. Biofuels are an ideal replacement of petroleum-based fuels because they are practically carbon neutral and produced from renewable resources. The advent of microbial genomics brings about technology to produce biofuels on an industrial scale that also does not compete with human food sources. Microorganisms are suitable for industrial scale applications because they are fairly resistant to harsh conditions present in reactors and they have a fast growth rate. Moreover, they have the ability to convert various forms of carbon to useful products such as biodiesel and ethanol.

An abundant source of carbon is carbon dioxide in the air. Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic microorganisms that can consume carbon dioxide and convert it into useful products such as alcohols, fatty acids, and pharmaceuticals. We are interested in engineering biosynthetic pathways leading to the production of industrially important products in Synechocystis PCC 6803. A number of molecular biology tools for the engineering Synechocystis have been previously established. These tools include transformation protocols, expression vectors, resistance markers, and targeted gene-knockout protocols. In addition, the genome has been sequenced. Our approach focuses primarily on the metabolic engineering of Synechocystis to overproduce free fatty acids and examine the effects of such changes on their physiology.