Production and harvesting of volatile jet fuel precursors from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803
Abstract: The world is currently faced with the enormous challenge of slowing down human triggered global warming. As the global energy demand increases, there is an urgent need for renewable and carbon-neutral fuel-sources. Isoprene and isobutene are crude-oil derived, short, volatile and reactive hydrocarbons that can be polymerised into longer chains to be used as jet fuel. Isoprene has previously been produced from the cyanobacterial strain Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 but there has been no reported isobutene synthesis from any photosynthetic organism. This work aimed to synthesise isobutene in Synechocystis using a cytochrome P450 from Cystobasidium minutum with reported isobutene production capability. Substrate availability was to be provided through the insertion of two heterologous enzymes, IpdC from Salmonella typhimurium and PadA from Escherichia coli. Both IpdC and PadA were successfully expressed in Synechocystis but the functional activities of IpdC, PadA and the cytochrome P450 in Synechocystis remains undetermined. This project also had the aim to design and construct a photo-bioreactor and gas collection system capable of producing and harvesting isoprene directly from an engineered Synechocystis strain. Herein lies a description of a closed system photobioreactor connected to a cold-trap that was able to concentrate isoprene produced from Synechocystis to measurable amounts.
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