The state of autotrophic ethanol production in Cyanobacteria
J. Dexter1,2,3, P. Armshaw1,3, C. Sheahan2 and J.T. Pembroke1,3,*
1Molecular and Structural Biochemistry Laboratory, Department of Chemical and Environmental Sciences, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
2Department of Design and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
3Materials and Surface Science Institute, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
Ethanol production directly from CO2, utilizing genetically engineered photosynthetic cyanobacteria as a biocatalyst, offers significant potential as a renewable and sustainable source of biofuel. Despite the current absence of a commercially successful production system, significant resources have been deployed to realize this goal. Utilizing the pyruvate decarboxylase from Zymomonas species, metabolically derived pyruvate can be converted to ethanol. This review of both peer-reviewed and patent literature focuses on the genetic modifications utilized for metabolic engineering and the resultant effect on ethanol yield. Gene dosage, induced expression and cassette optimizat-ion have been analyzed to optimize production, with production rates of 0·1–0·5 g L−1 day−1 being achieved. The current ‘toolbox’ of molecular manipulations and future directions focusing on applicability, addressing the primary challenges facing commercialization of cyanobacterial technologies are discussed.