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Keywords:

  • alternate fuels;
  • biofuels;
  • photosynthetic microorganisms;
  • cyanobacteria;
  • bioenergy algae

Photosynthetic microorganisms are able to produce a diverse array of renewable biochemical commodities. Although promising platforms for the accumulation of targeted products, these organisms must be optimized in solar energy conversion, carbon capture and utilization, and the partitioning of metabolic flux to the requisite biosynthetic pathways. Metabolic engineering efforts are systematically addressing these obstacles and demonstrate the potential to develop consolidated bioprocessing organisms that are able to efficiently transform the energy in sunlight directly to refined chemicals of economic value. Particularly intriguing are mechanisms to synthesize and secrete bioproducts of interest from cyanobacteria, thereby eliminating the need to dewater and process cellular biomass. Significant advances in more classical approaches to triacylglycerol and carbohydrate accumulation in algae have also recently been realized. Importantly, genetic tools and sequenced genomes are emerging for some of the most biotechnologically relevant strains. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 32: 989–1001, 2013