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Nat Biotechnol. 2009 Dec;27(12):1177-80. doi: 10.1038/nbt.1586.

Direct photosynthetic recycling of carbon dioxide to isobutyraldehyde.

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Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.


Global climate change has stimulated efforts to reduce CO(2) emissions. One approach to addressing this problem is to recycle CO(2) directly into fuels or chemicals using photosynthesis. Here we genetically engineered Synechococcus elongatus PCC7942 to produce isobutyraldehyde and isobutanol directly from CO(2) and increased productivity by overexpression of ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco). Isobutyraldehyde is a precursor for the synthesis of other chemicals, and isobutanol can be used as a gasoline substitute. The high vapor pressure of isobutyraldehyde allows in situ product recovery and reduces product toxicity. The engineered strain remained active for 8 d and produced isobutyraldehyde at a higher rate than those reported for ethanol, hydrogen or lipid production by cyanobacteria or algae. These results underscore the promise of direct bioconversion of CO(2) into fuels and chemicals, which bypasses the need for deconstruction of biomass.

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