Non-model microorganisms often possess complex phenotypes that could be important for the future of biofuel and chemical production. They have received significant interest the last several years, but advancement is still slow due to the lack of a robust genetic toolbox in most organisms. Typically, "domestication" of a new non-model microorganism has been done on an ad hoc basis, and historically, it can take years to develop transformation and basic genetic tools. Here, we review the barriers and solutions to rapid development of genetic transformation tools in new hosts, with a major focus on Restriction-Modification systems, which are a well-known and significant barrier to efficient transformation. We further explore the tools and approaches used for efficient gene deletion, DNA insertion, and heterologous gene expression. Finally, more advanced and high-throughput tools are now being developed in diverse non-model microbes, paving the way for rapid and multiplexed genome engineering for biotechnology.
Keywords: Genetic tools; Genetics; Metabolic engineering; Non-model microbes; Synthetic biology; Transformation.