Phototrophic microorganisms: Developing new chassis and engineering methods to realize new CO2-fixation biology 

Phototrophic microorganisms: Developing new chassis and engineering methods to realize new CO2-fixation biology

As one particular promising chassis for synthetic CO2 fixation, we focus on photoautotrophic microorganism, such as cyanobacteria and algae. For these organisms, we develop novel genetic, synthetic biology, and lab automation tools that we use for the implementation of our new-to-nature solutions.

Current projects investigate the potential of artificial carbon concentration mechanisms and synthetic photorespiratory pathways in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongates PCC7942. These solutions aim to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis by reducing energy and carbon losses through photorespiration. Our research explores various pathways, among others the β-hydroxyaspartate cycle (BHAC), the 3-hydroxypropionate bypass and the tartonyl-CoA (TaCo) pathway. By characterizing and optimizing these engineered cyanobacteria through adaptive laboratory evolution.

We also work with the unicellular algae Chlamydomonas to rapidly design, test, and evaluate chloroplast engineering strategies, and expedite advancements in higher plants. We have recently developed a chloroplast MoClo toolkit comprising over 400 components, including promoters, UTRs, terminators, novel selection markers, and reporters, tailored for integration at various loci of the chloroplast genome. We have also established a high-throughput pipeline that is capable of processing thousands of strains in parallel, which will enhance our chloroplast engineering and screening capabilities, paving the way for more sophisticated chloroplast genome engineering to improve photosynthesis. These efforts include designing, assembling, and testing new chloroplast designs to increase plastid genome engineering flexibility. We currently apply these tools to introduce and evaluate the efficiency of alternative photorespiratory pathways in Chlamydomonas.

Ultimately, our photosynthetic platforms will facilitate the testing and implementation of any modifications to photosynthetic processes, including (but not limited to) new Rubisco variants, carbon concentrating & photorespiration mechanisms, and synthetic CO2 fixation pathways.


Learn more about:
Evolution and Biochemistry of natural CO2-fixing enzymes
Engineering of new-to-nature CO2- and C1-converting enzymes
in vitro synthetic metabolic networks
Transplantation of new CO2-metabolism into natural cells
Design and realization of artificial organelles and cells

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