Modelling cyanobacteria: from metabolism to integrative models of phototrophic growth

J Exp Bot. 2012 Mar;63(6):2259-74. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ers018.


Cyanobacteria are phototrophic microorganisms of global importance and have recently attracted increasing attention due to their capability to convert sunlight and atmospheric CO(2) directly into organic compounds, including carbon-based biofuels. The utilization of cyanobacteria as a biological chassis to generate third-generation biofuels would greatly benefit from an increased understanding of cyanobacterial metabolism and its interplay with other cellular processes. In this respect, metabolic modelling has been proposed as a way to overcome the traditional trial and error methodology that is often employed to introduce novel pathways. In particular, flux balance analysis and related methods have proved to be powerful tools to investigate the organization of large-scale metabolic networks-with the prospect of predicting modifications that are likely to increase the yield of a desired product and thereby to streamline the experimental progress and avoid futile avenues. This contribution seeks to describe the utilization of metabolic modelling as a research tool to understand the metabolism and phototrophic growth of cyanobacteria. The focus of the contribution is on a mathematical description of the metabolic network of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and its analysis using constraint-based methods. A particular challenge is to integrate the description of the metabolic network with other cellular processes, such as the circadian clock, the photosynthetic light reactions, carbon concentration mechanism, and transcriptional regulation-aiming at a predictive model of a cyanobacterium in silico.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biofuels
  • Ecosystem
  • Kinetics
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Photosynthesis
  • Phototrophic Processes / physiology*
  • Synechocystis / growth & development*
  • Synechocystis / metabolism*


  • Biofuels