Collaborative Research: Designing a Minimized Genome Cyanobacterial Chassis for Efficient Bioproduction

Project: Research project

Project Details


The goal of this project is to obtain a photosynthetic bioproduction platform that can efficiently convert sunlight and CO2 into bioproducts of interest, through iterative removal of selected genes from a cyanobacterium. Cyanobacteria are oxygenic photosynthetic prokaryotes that are uniquely poised to become optimal platforms for sustainable bioproduction using sunlight and atmospheric CO2 as well as free and ubiquitous substrates. The genes selected for removal would be identified with the aid of computational methods and gene editing techniques. Gene removal is accomplished without compromising the growth rate of the organism. This project trains several national and international undergraduate students under different collaborative programs, in the design and implementation of molecular tools, relevant computational techniques and physiology of photosynthetic organisms. In addition, the project is designed to align with a variety of scientific entrepreneurial ventures.

This project develops Synechococcus 2973, a cyanobacterium displaying the fastest photoautotrophic growth ever observed, into an ideal chassis strain by streamlining its genome in a multi-step process that involves state-of-the-art genome-editing technology, guided by experimental analysis and metabolic modeling. Efficacy of reduction is assessed by both growth rate and productivity of a plug-in reporter pathway. Minimizing the genome while retaining fast growth eases the metabolic burden on the strain, removes cryptic regulatory processes that challenge predictable engineering, and improves understanding and control over this powerful autotrophic workhorse. The creation of a novel streamlined model cyanobacterium is a significant step in achieving an industrial 'green E. coli' and establishing the foundation for a sustainable bioeconomy.

This award is co-funded by the Systems and Synthetic Biology Cluster in the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences and the Cellular and Biochemical Engineering Program in the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date2/15/211/31/24


  • National Science Foundation: $380,000.00


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