Synthetic Biology Toolkits for Metabolic Engineering of Cyanobacteria

Biotechnol J. 2019 Jun;14(6):e1800496. doi: 10.1002/biot.201800496. Epub 2019 May 17.


Cyanobacteria are of great importance to Earth's ecology. Due to their capability in photosynthesis and C1 metabolism, they are ideal microbial chassis that can be engineered for direct conversion of carbon dioxide and solar energy into biofuels and biochemicals. Facilitated by the elucidation of the basic biology of the photoautotrophic microbes and rapid advances in synthetic biology, genetic toolkits have been developed to enable implementation of nonnatural functionalities in engineered cyanobacteria. Hence, cyanobacteria are fast becoming an emerging platform in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. Herein, the progress made in the synthetic biology toolkits for cyanobacteria and their utilization for transforming cyanobacteria into microbial cell factories for sustainable production of biofuels and biochemicals is outlined. Current techniques in heterologous gene expression, strategies in genome editing, and development of programmable regulatory parts and modules for engineering cyanobacteria towards biochemical production are discussed and prospected. As cyanobacteria synthetic biology is still in its infancy, apart from the achievements made, the difficulties and challenges in applying and developing genetic toolkits in cyanobacteria for biochemical production are also evaluated.

Keywords: cyanobacteria; expression; genome editing; synthetic biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism*
  • Gene Editing / methods
  • Metabolic Engineering / methods*
  • Photosynthesis / genetics
  • Photosynthesis / physiology
  • Synthetic Biology / methods*