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Development of a redesigned strain of light-harvesting cyanobacteria is a realistic goal that will have many applications in biotechnology, reports a review in Frontiers in Microbiology.
The emerging field of synthetic biology has already successfully used genes from naturally occurring organisms to build safe and nonpolluting strains of microbes that can take photographs or produce antimalarial drugs. In this way, sets of useful genes get "bolted" onto a simple but viable "chassis" derived from a naturally occurring microbe, as simply as assembling electronics from off-the-shelf components. Especially cyanobacteria - the first photosynthetic oxygen-producing organisms to evolve on Earth - hold great promise to transform our economy by producing renewable fuels, chemicals, and even food from sunlight and carbon dioxide. But unfortunately, synthetic biology tools for cyanobacteria are still less advanced than those that already exist for non-light-harvesting microbes such as baker's yeast and the bacterium Escherichia coli.
Himadri Pakrasi and colleagues here review the special challenges and opportunities for synthetic biology using cyanobacteria. They describe the biotechnology tools that are already available and identify those tools that might be most worthwhile to develop, while focusing on the special challenges that light-harvesting organisms like cyanobacteria pose for synthetic biology applications.
Journal : Frontiers in Microbiology
DOI : 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00246
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
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