Photoautotrophic synthesis of butyrate by metabolically engineered cyanobacteria

Martin J. Lai, Ethan I. Lan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Direct conversion of carbon dioxide into chemicals using engineered autotrophic microorganisms offers a potential solution for both sustainability and carbon mitigation. Butyrate is an important chemical used in various industries, including fragrance, food, and plastics. A model cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 was engineered for the direct photosynthetic conversion of CO 2 to butyrate. An engineered Clostridium Coenzyme A (CoA)-dependent pathway leading to the synthesis of butyryl-CoA, the precursor to butyrate, was introduced into S. elongatus PCC 7942. Two CoA removal strategies were then individually coupled to the modified CoA-dependent pathway to yield butyrate production. Similar results were observed between the two CoA removal strategies. The best butyrate producing strain of S. elongatus resulted in an observed butyrate titer of 750 mg/L and a cumulative titer of 1.1 g/L. These results demonstrated the feasibility of photosynthetic butyrate production and expanded the chemical repertoire accessible for production by photoautotrophs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-903
Number of pages11
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • butyrate kinase
  • butyric acid
  • cyanobacteria
  • metabolic engineering
  • phosphotransbutyrylase
  • thioesterase

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