Photoautotrophic production of polyhydroxyalkanoates in a synthetic mixed culture of Synechococcus elongatus cscB and Pseudomonas putida cscAB

Hannes Löwe, Karina Hobmeier, Manuel Moos, Andreas Kremling, Katharina Pflüger-Grau

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84 Scopus citations


Background: One of the major challenges for the present and future generations is to find suitable substitutes for the fossil resources we rely on today. Cyanobacterial carbohydrates have been discussed as an emerging renewable feedstock in industrial biotechnology for the production of fuels and chemicals, showing promising production rates when compared to crop-based feedstock. However, intrinsic capacities of cyanobacteria to produce biotechnological compounds are limited and yields are low. Results: Here, we present an approach to circumvent these problems by employing a synthetic bacterial co-culture for the carbon-neutral production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) from CO2. The co-culture consists of two bio-modules: Bio-module I, in which the cyanobacterial strain Synechococcus elongatus cscB fixes CO2, converts it to sucrose, and exports it into the culture supernatant; and bio-module II, where this sugar serves as C-source for Pseudomonas putida cscAB and is converted to PHAs that are accumulated in the cytoplasm. By applying a nitrogen-limited process, we achieved a maximal PHA production rate of 23.8 mg/(L day) and a maximal titer of 156 mg/L. We will discuss the present shortcomings of the process and show the potential for future improvement. Conclusions: These results demonstrate the feasibility of mixed cultures of S. elongatus cscB and P. putida cscAB for PHA production, making room for the cornucopia of possible products that are described for P. putida. The construction of more efficient sucrose-utilizing P. putida phenotypes and the optimization of process conditions will increase yields and productivities and eventually close the gap in the contemporary process. In the long term, the co-culture may serve as a platform process, in which P. putida is used as a chassis for the implementation of synthetic metabolic pathways for biotechnological production of value-added products.

Original languageEnglish
Article number190
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
StatePublished - 19 Jul 2017


  • CO fixation
  • Carbon neutral bioplastics
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)
  • Pseudomonas putida cscAB
  • Synechococcus elongatus cscB
  • Synthetic co-culture


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