Metabolic engineering of cyanobacteria for 1-butanol production from carbon dioxide

Ethan I. Lan, James C. Liao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

266 Scopus citations


Production of chemicals and fuels directly from CO2 is an attractive approach to solving the energy and environmental problems. 1-Butanol, a chemical feedstock and potential fuel, has been produced by fermentation of carbohydrates, both in native Clostridium species and various engineered hosts. To produce 1-butanol from CO2, we transferred a modified CoA-dependent 1-butanol production pathway into a cyanobacterium, Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942. We demonstrated the activity of each enzyme in the pathway by chromosomal integration and expression of the genes. In particular, Treponema denticola trans-enoyl-CoA reductase (Ter), which utilizes NADH as the reducing power, was used for the reduction of crotonyl-CoA to butyryl-CoA instead of Clostridium acetobutylicum butyryl-CoA dehydrogenase to by-pass the need of Clostridial ferredoxins. Addition of polyhistidine-tag increased the overall activity of Ter and resulted in higher 1-butanol production. Removal of oxygen is an important factor in the synthesis of 1-butanol in this organism. This result represents the first autotrophic 1-butanol production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-363
Number of pages11
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2011


  • Biofuel
  • Butanol
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Synthetic biology


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