Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 15, pp 6451–6458 | Cite as

Biotechnology of cyanobacterial isoprene production

  • Julie E. Chaves
  • Anastasios MelisEmail author
Biotechnological products and process engineering


Heterologous cyanobacterial production of isoprene (C5H8) presents an opportunity to develop renewable resources for fuel and industrial chemicals. Isoprene can be generated photosynthetically in these microorganisms from dimethylallyl-diphosphate (DMAPP) by the recombinant enzyme isoprene synthase (ISPS), as a transgenic product of the isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway. The present work sought to combine recent enhancements in the cellular level of reactant (DMAPP) and enzyme (ISPS), as a means in the further development of this technology. This objective was approached upon the heterologous overexpression of fni, an isopentenyl isomerase from Streptococcus pneumoniae, which increased the amount of the DMAPP reactant at the expense of its isomer, isopentenyl-diphosphate (IPP), in the cells. In addition, the cellular concentration of ISPS was substantially enhanced upon expression of the ISPS gene, as a fusion construct with the highly expressed in cyanobacteria cpcB gene, encoding the abundant β-subunit of phycocyanin. Synergy between these two modifications, i.e., enhancement in DMAPP substrate availability and enhancement in the concentration of the ISPS enzyme, improved the isoprene-to-biomass production ratio in cyanobacteria from 0.2:1 mg g−1 (w:w), attained with the ISPS transgene alone, up to 12.3:1 mg g−1 (w:w), measured when the combined two modifications were applied to the same cell. This is the highest verifiable yield of heterologous photosynthetic isoprene production reported so far. Findings in this work constitute a step forward in the development of the cyanobacterial biotechnology for isoprene production.


Bioenergy Isoprene Isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase Metabolic engineering Synechocystis PCC 6803 Synthetic biology 



The work was conducted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by JEC, who was supported by a graduate student fellowship from the NSF Sage IGERT program. Authors wish to thank Dr. Cinzia Formighieri for making the Fni-SmR construct.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2018_9093_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (418 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 417 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant and Microbial BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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