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UC Davis team engineers cyanobacterium for enhanced direct production of 2,3-butanediol; design methods for exogenous chemical production

A research team from the University of California, Davis has engineered a 2,3-butanediol (23BD) biosynthetic pathway in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC7942 to establish design methods for efficient exogenous chemical production in cyanobacteria—a technology area that is still in its infancy compared with model fermentative organisms, they noted.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they reported the production by their organism of 23BD from CO2 reached 2.38 g/L—a significant increase for chemical production from exogenous pathways in cyanobacteria. The work demonstrates that developing strong design methods can continue to increase chemical production in cyanobacteria, they suggested.

2,3BD is a key chemical building block used to make polymers, plastics and hydrocarbon fuels; it can be readily converted to intermediaries such as butenes, butadiene and methyl ethyl ketone that are used in the production of hydrocarbon fuels and a variety of chemicals including polymers, synthetic rubbers, plastics and textiles. (Earlier post.)

They selected 23BD as a target chemical with low host toxicity, and designed an oxygen-insensitive, cofactor-matched biosynthetic pathway coupled with irreversible enzymatic steps to create a driving force toward the target.


  • John W. K. Oliver, Iara M.P. Machado, Hisanari Yoneda, and Shota Atsumi (2013) Cyanobacterial conversion of carbon dioxide to 2,3-butanediol PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1213024110

  • Ira M.P. Machado, Shota Atsumi (2012) Cyanobacterial biofuel production, Journal of Biotechnology, Volume 162, Issue 1, Pages 50-56, doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2012.03.005


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