Engineering cyanobacteria to generate high-value products

Trends Biotechnol. 2011 Feb;29(2):95-103. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2010.12.003. Epub 2011 Jan 5.


Although many microorganisms have been used for the bioindustrial generation of valuable metabolites, the productive potential of cyanobacterial species has remained largely unexplored. Cyanobacteria possess several advantages as organisms for bioindustrial processes, including simple input requirements, tolerance of marginal agricultural environments, rapid genetics, and carbon-neutral applications that could be leveraged to address global climate change concerns. Here, we review recent research involving the engineering of cyanobacterial species for the production of valuable bioindustrial compounds, including natural cyanobacterial products (e.g. sugars and isoprene), biofuels (e.g. alcohols, alkanes and hydrogen), and other commodity chemicals. Biological and economic obstacles to scaled cyanobacterial production are highlighted, and methods for increasing cyanobacterial production efficiencies are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biofuels*
  • Butanols / metabolism*
  • Cyanobacteria / genetics
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism*
  • Environment
  • Ethanol / metabolism*
  • Genetic Engineering*
  • Hydrogen / metabolism


  • Biofuels
  • Butanols
  • Ethanol
  • isobutyl alcohol
  • Hydrogen