Photo-synthetic production of hydrocarbons from the isoprenoid-biosynthesis in cyanobacteria

Time period: 2011-01-01 to 2013-12-31

Funder: Swedish Energy Agency

Type of award: Project grant

Total fundning: 2 400 000 SEK

There is an urgent need to develop renewable alternatives to petroleum that will help meet global demands for energy and synthetic chemistry feedstock, without contributing to climate change or other environmental degradation. The project aims is to investigate the possibility to use cyanobacteria, photosynthetic microorganisms, to produce hydrocarbons to serve as an alternative to petroleum products. The raw materials for the production of these hydrocarbons will be solar energy, water, and carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere. The goal of the project is to over-produce hydrocarbons originating from the isoprenoid biosynthesis in the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis PCC 6803. This will be accomplished by metabolic engineering using genetic techniques. Fundamental questions regarding the isoprenoid biosynthesis pathway in cyanobacteria will be addressed. This pathway is not yet well characterized in cyanobacteria, even though it is the source of many commercially interesting isoprenoids. Selected enzymes in the pathway leading to isoprenoid biosyntheis will be cloned and overexpressed in Synechocystis. The resulting metabolically engineered strains will be characterized for increased production of certain isoprenoids. In a first step, squalene synthase will be the focus of project. Thereafter, the expression of other genes and enzymes will be modified or added to the straorder to tune the pathway to improve production of interesting compounds.