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A carbon sink pathway increases carbon productivity in cyanobacteria

Oliver, John W.K., Atsumi, Shota
Metabolic engineering 2015 v.29 pp. 106-112
Synechococcus sp. PCC 7942, adhesives, burning, carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide fixation, carbon sinks, fossils, genes, light intensity, oils, photosynthesis, plastics, pyruvic acid, society, solar radiation, synthetic products
The burning of fossil reserves, and subsequent release of carbon into the atmosphere is depleting the supply of carbon-based molecules used for synthetic materials including plastics, oils, medicines, and glues. To provide for future society, innovations are needed for the conversion of waste carbon (CO2) into organic carbon useful for materials. Chemical production directly from photosynthesis is a nascent technology, with great promise for capture of CO2 using sunlight. To improve low yields, it has been proposed that photosynthetic capacity can be increased by a relaxation of bottlenecks inherent to growth. The limits of carbon partitioning away from growth within the cell and the effect of partitioning on carbon fixation are not well known. Here we show that expressing genes in a pathway between carbon fixation and pyruvate increases partitioning to 2,3-butanediol (23BD) and leads to a 1.8-fold increase in total carbon yield in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942. Specific 2,3-butanediol production increases 2.4-fold. As partitioning increases beyond 30%, it leads to a steep decline in total carbon yield. The data suggests a local maximum for carbon partitioning from the Calvin Benson cycle that is scalable with light intensity.