Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 139, Issue 1–3, pp 173–183 | Cite as

Characterization of cyanobacterial cells synthesizing 10-methyl stearic acid

  • Shuntaro Machida
  • Iwane SuzukiEmail author
Original Article


Recently, microalgae have attracted attention as sources of biomass energy. However, fatty acids from the microalgae are mainly unsaturated and show low stability in oxygenated environments, due to oxidation of the double bonds. The branched-chain fatty acid, 10-methyl stearic acid, is synthesized from oleic acid in certain bacteria; the fatty acid is saturated, but melting point is low. Thus, it is stable in the presence of oxygen and is highly fluid. We previously demonstrated that BfaA and BfaB in Mycobacterium chlorophenolicum are involved in the synthesis of 10-methyl stearic acid from oleic acid. In this study, as a consequence of the introduction of bfaA and bfaB into the cyanobacterium, Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, we succeeded in producing 10-methyl stearic acid, with yields up to 4.1% of the total fatty acid content. The synthesis of 10-methyl stearic acid in Synechocystis cells did not show a significant effect on photosynthetic activity, but the growth of the cells was retarded at 34 °C. We observed that the synthesis of 10-methylene stearic acid, a precursor of 10-methyl stearic acid, had an inhibitory effect on the growth of the transformants, which was mitigated under microoxic conditions. Eventually, the amount of 10-methyl stearic acid present in the sulfoquinovosyl diacylglycerol and phosphatidylglycerol of the transformants was remarkably higher than that in the monogalactosyldiacylglycerol and digalactosyldiacylglycerol. Overall, we successfully synthesized 10-methyl stearic acid in the phototroph, Synechocystis, demonstrating that it is possible to synthesize unique modified fatty acids via photosynthesis that are not naturally produced in photosynthetic organisms.


10-Methyl octadecanoic acid bfaAB Microalgae Mid-chain methyl-branched fatty acid Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 Tuberculostearic acid 











Codon-optimized bfaA and bfaB


Gas chromatography


Fatty acid methyl ester


Palmitic acid


Palmitoleic acid


Stearic acid


Oleic acid


Linoleic acid


γ-Linolenic acid


α-Linolenic acid


Stearidonic acid


10-Methyl stearic acid


10-Methylene stearic acid.



The genomic DNA of M. chlorophenolicum JCM 7439T was obtained from RIKEN BRC, which is a participant in the National BioResources Project of the MEXT, Japan.

Supplementary material

11120_2018_537_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (108 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 108 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Food Research InstituteNational Agriculture and Food Research OrganizationTsukubaJapan
  3. 3.Faculty of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan

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