Synthetic Biology in the Design of Versatile Expression Systems in Synechocystis Sp. PCC 6803

Thiel, K., University of Turku
Mulaku, E., University of Turku

Photosynthetic cyanobacteria can be employed for producing diverse end-products directly from atmospheric CO2 and water, using sunlight as energy. Some of the first applications are already in pilot-scale testing, but the main bottleneck is the efficiency which still remains below commercial feasibility. One of the limitations is the lack of efficient and modifiable tools for the generation of optimized production strains. Our research is focused on synthetic biology, aiming at engineering more efficient cyanobacterial production platforms with flexible means of modification and optimization. We are employing a modified Bio-Brick approach to effectively assemble operons in expression vectors designed for Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. This is used for the evaluation of different genetic elements (such as RBSs, promoters or chromosomal integration sites), as well as for the flexible construction, modification and optimization of multi-gene over-expression constructs. The ultimate aim is to combine (i) the tools for engineering optimized heterologous pathways for biofuel production with (ii) different modification strategies of the host metabolism for maximal photon conversion efficiency and metabolic flux from CO2 towards the final products.